PoliticsDecember 20, 2016

2017 in politics: the big issues for election year in New Zealand – and some wild predictions


The Spinoff’s hand-picked gallery of sagacious politics watchers cast their minds forward to next year, and gaze foolhardily into their crystal balls

We asked: What are the issues upon which 2017 election year will hinge? And we beseeched: Given the unqualified success of predictions in 2016 politics, please give us a wild crystal-ball prediction for something we won’t see coming in 2017 …

See also: Our glittering panel on the ups and downs of 2016, and how to summarise the year in a sentence and Our wise owls select the champs and the flops of 2016

Shamubeel Eaqub

The big issues

1. Housing remains the big issue. Unaffordable housing will be high on the list of worries for Aucklanders in particular.

2. Tax cuts. There will be a tax cut sweetener. The question is how big and who benefits. People may say they care about loads of social issues, but are still heavily influenced by their back pocket once in the polling booth.

3. Poverty. Next winter will be worse than this year for homelessness and the working poor living in cars. Expect MSM to make a big thing of it ahead of the elections – rightly so. With housing crisis getting worse – this will put in sharp relief the challenges we have with poverty traps.

A wild prediction

The Greens will pull in more votes than Labour in the 2017 general election (if they can explain to voters how to vote in an MMP system).

Shamubeel Eaqub is a bullshit-eviscerating economist

Graeme Edgeler

The big issues

1. Same as always: events. Maybe it’s an earthquake, maybe it’s a debate over whether to send troops to shore up Taiwan. But it’s the reaction to something, not the thing itself.

2. How people feel about stuff, which is something politicians can have little to do with.

3. The election will be fought over competing housing policies, but these probably won’t factor into the votes of that many people.

A wild prediction

The Chinese government will announce plans to get a man on the moon within five years, with a permanent moon presence to follow. This will lead to a new global space race and a massive increase in spending on research in science and engineering in the coming years.

Graeme Edgeler is a lawyer, blogger and check on the executive

Emma Espiner

1. Economic credibility

2. Which major party has the most boring leader

3. Economic credibility

A wild prediction

Labour is the third highest polling party behind National and the Greens.

Emma Espiner is a medical student, mother and social commentator

Tau Henare

The big issues

1. Housing

2. Education

3. Employment

A wild prediction

Someone in Parliament will die.

Tau Henare is a former National and NZ First MP

Bernard Hickey

The big issues

1. Housing costs

2. Immigration pressures

3. Child poverty

A wild prediction

Bill English using an exclamation mark in a tweet from his new account.

Bernard Hickey is the editor of Hive News

Laila Harré

The big issues

1. Re-booting the social contract – technology/demography/distribution

2. Possible governments, with National for first time critically dependent on NZ First

3. Immigration policy

A wild prediction

Prison reform (step one will be Bill English taking Collins out of Corrections). [ed’s note: this prediction was made a week before Collins was removed from Corrections.]

Laila Harré is a former Alliance MP turned restaurateur who has just signed up to the Labour Party

Bronwyn Hayward

The big issues

None of these issues will be framed like this but there are three core tensions underlying debates:

1. An inclusive economy that is accountable and responsive to all New Zealanders- will be framed around housing, and new ways of talking about poverty.

2. Social mobility: the ability to feel like you and the people you care about can get a fair go and could make a difference to your future and things you care about- which is our way of talking about equality.

3. Environmental risk: including climate change (the impacts of drought, heavy storms) and, earthquakes, on agriculture, people and communities. Heaven forbid, we have one more, really big earthquake but if we did, during the campaign, the election is probably National’s to win because in disaster we as citizens tend to listen to known voices.

A wild prediction

Facebook will be accused of interfering in the outcomes of the NZ election; a large US Charter school chain will invest heavily in NZ education; a crowd sourced, comedy pirate party will disrupt the king maker role of NZ First and will appoint Ricky Baker, “Minister of Valuable Children” in a new 2017 government (I am joking about the last one, but not entirely).

Bronwyn Hayward is associate professor in political science at the University of Canterbury

Joshua Hitchcock

The big issues

1. Immigration

2. Auckland house prices

3. Māori “privilege”

A wild prediction

Gareth Morgan and the Opportunities Party will get elected to parliament only for him to sit in opposition for three years contemplating what a waste of time the whole exercise was.

Joshua Hitchcock is a writer and Head of Finance and Operations at Hubbub.net

Stephen Jacobi

The big issues

1. Housing

2. Child poverty

3. Trade (well not really but I feel I had to say it)

A wild prediction

TPP will surprise us by making a spectacular come back ! Believe me, it’s just round the corner …

Stephen Jacobi is a former diplomat, policy adviser, and trade advocate

Nicola Kean

The big issues

1. Housing: people with jobs are living in cars, how can it not be?

2. Health: it’s been all quiet on the health front for a long time, but the warning signs are there.

3. The economy/poverty: English has signalled this is going to be priority for him.

A wild prediction

The four horsemen of the apocalypse? Maybe that’s too easy. An early election leads to a Borgen-esque scenario where David Seymour ends up as PM?

Nicola Kean is producer on TV3’s The Nation

Annabelle Lee

The big issues

1. Housing

2. Employment

3. Bill English’s personality and Winston’s favour

A wild prediction

Annette Sykes will make it into parliament – more of a wish than a predication. If the next parliament contained Annette Sykes, Marama Fox, Marama Davidson and Nanaia Mahuta that would be a powerful voice for Māoridom and a very interesting parliament to report on.

Annabelle Lee is executive producer on The Hui and the cleverest person on the Spinoff’s political podcast

Laura O’Connell Rapira

The big issues

1. Housing

2. Immigration

3. “The economy”

A wild prediction

Mike Hosking will make a run for the Maungakiekie seat to replace Sam Lotu-Iiga as the National Party candidate.

Laura O’Connell is ‎director of campaigns at ‎ActionStation

Claire Robinson

The big issues

1. Inequality

2. The economy

3. Stability

A wild prediction

Legalisation of cannabis

Claire Robinson is pro vice-chancellor, Toi Rauwharangi College of Creative Art, Massey University

David Slack

The big issues

Housing, and something random that will get amplified out of all proportion to its significance.

A wild prediction

Meteorite comes flying down Fifth Avenue, into the lobby, waits for the lift, goes all the way up and takes him out. Then we find out how bad Pence is.

David Slack is a writer and broadcaster

Tainui Stephens

The big issues

1. Assisting the poor

2. Looking after our kids

3. Leadership with vision

A wild prediction

National will implode under the weight of Gerry Brownlee. Winston forms a coalition govt with Labour, the Greens, the Māori Party/Mana. Jacinda will be deputy. Winnie will be PM and retake Foreign Affairs as the first step towards a sort of glorious swansong. A referendum for Marijuana Law reform will be launched. The Pike River whānau bury what’s left of their dead.

Tainui Stephens is a film and TV producer and presenter

Ben Thomas

The big issues

1. Economy

2. Housing

3. Immigration

A wild prediction

New Zealand’s 2017 election will not be nearly as much like the United Kingdom and the United States campaigns as political pundits want it to be.

Ben Thomas is a journalist turned political adviser turned PR hack at Exceltium and the cleverest person on the Spinoff’s political podcast

Andrea Vance

The big issues

1. Bill English vs Andrew Little. Zzzz: The Battle of the Boring. But this is English’s election to lose. Again.

2. The really complex issue of inequality in NZ (and that’s wealth, income, resources, gender, ethnicity). Most people recognise its one of the big issues facing NZ – but will it change the government? That depends entirely on whether it directly impact the lives on the people who vote.

3. Us bloody immigrants stealing your jobs and houses.

A wild prediction

The return of MSM credibility. Haha, just kidding.

Andrea Vance is a political reporter for TVNZ news

Tim Watkin

The big issues

1. Economic direction – whether voters feel it’s right or wrong / turnout

2. What NZ First reckons

3. Unknown unknowns

A wild prediction

I know it’s crazy talk, but that proper journalism and robust questioning will still matter. Trump will do some real damage. And maybe a peanut butter shortage.

Tim Watkin is executive producer of podcasts and series and bloglord at Pundit

Jamie Whyte

The big issues

1. Housing

2. How best to use the budget surplus to buy votes – sorry, to pay for vital services

3. Rising crime rates

Jamie Whyte is a writer and former ACT Party leader

Guy Williams

The big issues

1. Immigration

2. Stable government

3. A flag referendum to decide if the last flag referendum was legitimate

A wild prediction

Earthquake damage will mean that Auckland becomes the temporary capital. I feel like we need to be doing more to prepare for earthquakes, maybe this shocking hot take will be the force that helps us get a move on.

Guy Williams is a tall comedian, broadcaster and writer

Simon Wilson

The big issues

1. Which leaders we like more.

2. Can National be shamed?

3. Will Paula Bennett be prevented from unleashing the weapons of bile and abuse that fill her heart?

A wild prediction

1. John Key will become unpopular. When Bill English lays on the charm, which he is very good at, and makes it clear he actually believes in things and has reasons to be in politics that are not just about being liked, a lot of former Key supporters will start to ask, Hey, wonder what we saw in that guy? How did we get fooled by such a gormless flake? And everyone else will be so exhausted they’ll just cry.

2. Elon Musk will prove that we really are all living in a game and Trump was just a thing some smart kid did to fuck with us.

[ed’s note: but that’s more than one – ah, forget it.]

Simon Wilson is a writer and former editor of Metro

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