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Act leader David Seymour (Image: Getty Images/Tina Tiller)
Act leader David Seymour (Image: Getty Images/Tina Tiller)

The BulletinFebruary 12, 2024

Rising poll numbers bolster Act’s Treaty principles pushback

Act leader David Seymour (Image: Getty Images/Tina Tiller)
Act leader David Seymour (Image: Getty Images/Tina Tiller)

With polls showing a rise in support for Act, David Seymour is taking a more aggressive position in defence of his controversial bill, writes Catherine McGregor in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Government begins final push to March 8

It’s been 75 days since November 29 2024, when the clock started ticking on the coalition’s 100 day plan. Now the government has less than four weeks until its self-imposed deadline expires, and it still has a lot to do to make its lengthy agenda a reality. Parliament kicks off a rare four-week sitting period today with the aim of getting the government’s many bills moving through the House. “Crime and justice are key parts of that agenda,” writes the Herald, “with the Government’s anti-gang laws needing to be passed, and some bills are likely to be passed under urgency, only adding to the packed political agenda.” In the Sunday Star-Times, Vernon Small notes that we’re yet to hear anything on National’s controversial plan to decouple benefits from wages and revert to indexing them to inflation. Expect a legislative announcement on that soon.

Support for Act continuing to grow

Act is starting the week on a high. The party has seen a significant increase in popularity in the latest Taxpayers’ Union-Curia poll, rising to 13.7% – a 5.6 point increase since November. Apparently proving the adage that all publicity is good publicity, the poll was taken during the Waitangi Day period, amid increased attention to David Seymour’s proposed Treaty Principles Bill. National has also experienced a bump to 39.6%, a 2.6 point increase. If they’d had these numbers at the election, Act and National wouldn’t have needed NZ First to form a government. Meanwhile the Greens have seen a sharp decline to 9%, likely influenced by Golriz Ghahraman’s resignation following shoplifting allegations and James Shaw’s announcement he’s stepping down as co-leader. The party will be hoping the new co-leader – whoever that might be – will help turn their fortunes around.

Seymour emboldened to challenge coalition partner

Increasing public support for Act – and, presumably, for its Treaty stance – provides context for recent tensions between Seymour and Chris Luxon. Last week the PM ruled out supporting Act’s bill beyond first reading (although as Hayden Donnell exasperatedly notes this morning, Luxon almost immediately retreated to less definitive language). “Seymour and Act may feel that National’s unequivocal stance is a breach of good faith, but they have opted to make the tensions much worse,” writes Vernon Small. Act’s decision to launch a website designed to force National to change its mind was one act of aggression. The other was Seymour saying he doesn’t believe Luxon’s mind is fully made up. “It amounted to publicly questioning whether Luxon can be trusted on his word,” writes Claire Trevett in the Herald (paywalled), “and that is simply not something any coalition partner should do.”

Government announces more money for cyclone clean up

After the drama of Waitangi weekend, this was a noticeably quieter weekend on both sides of the political aisle. Luxon was in Hawke’s Bay to announce $63 million in additional funding for the removal of silt and debris in areas affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, particularly in Hawke’s Bay and Tai Rāwhiti. The announcement, timed to today’s one year anniversary of the cyclone, brings the total government funding for cleanup efforts in these regions to $232 million. Meanwhile foreign minister Winston Peters ended his tour of the Pacific with an announcement of $15.2 million over three years to strengthen climate change resilience in the Pacific, on top of $16.5 million announced last week specifically for the Cook Islands to tackle the impacts of climate change.

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