Labour leader David Cunliffe.
The Government has resolutely vowed to push on with the
sale of shares in state-owned Genesis Energy, even as a new
survey reveals angry voters are turning their backs on the
National Party and its asset sales programme.
A Herald on Sunday-Key Research poll shows Labour's vote
soaring from 31 per cent, a year ago, to 40 per cent this
That is Labour's best result since 2007, and will be a
welcome Christmas present for new leader David Cunliffe.
Asked how the asset sales would affect their vote, 37 per
cent of the 500 respondents said they would be much less
likely to vote for National.
It won't keep John Key awake at night: his party is still
polling at a very healthy 48 per cent, and support for him as
prime minister (45 per cent) is more than double that of
Cunliffe (18 per cent).
Preliminary results of a citizens-initiated referendum,
published on Friday, showed two out of three voters opposed
asset sales. But only 44 per cent of the public voted,
enabling Prime Minister John Key to dismiss the referendum as
a "political stunt".
"Three in four New Zealanders said no, we don't agree with
Labour and the Greens," Key told media yesterday at
Hobsonville Airbase in Auckland.
"I genuinely think Labour and the Greens will be very
disappointed ... I think it will be a dismal failure from
their point of view."
The Young Nats went one step further, posting a photo of John
Key drinking a beer at a barbecue with the caption: "The
provisional results for the asset sales referendum are ...
who cares, it's Friday. Have a good one."
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said the Herald on Sunday
poll confirmed that, for most people, the share sales
programme would either not change their voting intentions or
would reinforce their support for National.
He reiterated National's intention to sell part of Genesis
Energy early next year. "As we have said previously, the
Government plans to sell a minority stake in Genesis in the
first half of next year, subject to market conditions."
Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove accused him of disregarding
democracy and the 1.3 million people who voted in the postal
referendum. "What I find outrageous is that National will
ignore this referendum completely. They are telling New
Zealanders that National doesn't care what they want.
"This is more about John Key and Bill English's political
vanity and pride."
When asked whether Labour would buy back the assets if it
gained the Treasury benches, he refused to answer directly,
insisting only that Labour "reserved the right to act in the
Greens co-leader Russel Norman said asset sales had become an
albatross around the neck of the National Party. "They can
say what they like but the fact is asset sales have always
been unpopular - even with National voters," he said. "This
has really dented voter confidence in the party."
The Herald on Sunday poll's worst news is for the Greens,
whose vote share drops from 13 per cent to 8 per cent, and
for the smaller parties, none of whom break 1 per cent.
However, with National and a Labour-Greens coalition tied on
48 per cent, this poll would nonetheless put the future of
the country in the hands of small party power-brokers. Peter
Dunne is likely to return and support National; Hone Harawira
is likely to return and support Labour - leaving the Maori
Party as the most likely broker.
Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell would seek to persuade members to
stick with National for another term - but would likely
demand weighty government concessions on issues such as