Newsroom Pro's 8 things at 8 am: Behind Labour's list delay

Winston Peters has a strong hand going into the election as net migration remains at the centre of the debate.

1. A messy list release

Labour's hopes for a smooth and disciplined release of its list before the September 23 election were dashed yesterday amid a welter of complaints, crisis meetings and an embarrassing delay.

The list was expected to be released early in the afternoon, but rumours that Willie Jackson was unhappy with his position of 21 started circulating late in the morning. The announcement was then delayed until early this morning and is now out.

The full list is below, but the key detail is that Jackson is still on 21 and Trevor Mallard is down at 32, making it difficult for them to become list MPs with a party vote for Labour of much less than 30 percent. The winners were Priyanca Radhakrishnan on 11, Raymond Huo on 12, Jan Tinetti on 14, Willow Jean Prime on 16 and Kiri Allan on 20.

Labour Leader Andrew Little told Duncan Garner on TV3's AM programme this morning that he had always said he wanted Jackson to have a winnable position, but would not say if he had tried to get him a higher spot. Labour will need to win more than it's currently polling for Jackson to become a list MP.

Little agreed Jackson had been unhappy with the position and that he had met him in Wellington yesterday, along with other candidates in meetings that were described elsewhere as 'crisis' meetings.

2. Cracks in unity

Sam Sachdeva rightly pointed on Newsroom Pro yesterday to the delay and the reports of crisis meetings as revealing cracks in Labour's unity.

It not the first time Jackson has caused disquiet within Labour’s ranks.

After his candidacy was announced, a number of party members - including Christchurch East MP Poto Williams - criticised comments he had made about the Roast Busters scandal while working at RadioLive in 2013.

That led to an apology from Jackson, but clearly all is not well between him and the party.

Little said in his interview with Garner this morning he was pleased to have candidates from various ethnic communities near the top of the list, referring to Priyanca Radhakrishnan specifically.

He also pointed to the Labour Party's requirement for the ranking committee to ensure that at least half of its MPs are women, taking into account likely electorate results.

The positions of Jan Tinetti at 14, Willow Jean Prime at 16 and Kiri Allan at 20 appeared to reflect that.

Little and Labour President Nigel Haworth are scheduled to hold a news conference at 9 am in Wellington today, where these issues and the ill discipline will be a focus.

3. 'Never mind the list'

Newsroom Co-Editor Tim Murphy writes that Labour's List is not its biggest problem - Little is.

"Little has become a better television communicator, off a low base and against an equally uncharismatic National leader. But he's still coming across two-dimensionally," Tim writes.

"If I had a dollar for every time an Opposition party MP or member had told me their unpopular leader was terrific and would be a winner if the public could just see him or her one-to-one, or in small groups, I'd be flush. Palmer, Bolger, Clark, English, Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe, and now Little," he writes.

"The L word problem - his image and communication issue - is one that Labour's MPs, candidates, and volunteers will strike on the doorsteps."

4. Coming up...

Prime Minister Bill English's news conference was dominated yesterday by discussion around the Pike River video released on Sunday night.

He denied any cover-up, pointing out Police had shown video excerpts to family members in 2011 and had handed it on to the Royal Commission. He also said the footage showed miners only metres inside the front entrance, rather than deeper inside the mine.

New Zealand First continued to accuse the Government of a cover up and Labour called for an investigation into entering the mine, but the sting appeared to go out of the story by late in the day.

However, as our National Affairs Editor Shane Cowlishaw reported on Newsroom Pro yesterday, English did preview a speech he said would outline "the next steps" in the government's social investment programme on Wednesday.

5. Housing news coming too ...

English was also asked whether the Government would announce billions of dollars worth of new investment in housing in the Budget on May 25.

He again pointed to upcoming announcements from Social Housing Minister Amy Adams, who now has full control of the Government's house building efforts in Auckland, now that Environment Minister Nick Smith is no longer involved in the Crown Land building programme.

"It’ll unfold on the way to the Budget," English said.

"We are going to be on this question and answer thing for the next two or three weeks. But we’ve always said there will significant house building," he said.

"There already is. You can see it in Northcote, in Tamaki, Housing NZ is talking about other projects and it’s required partly because Housing NZ owns so much land in Auckland – it’s got the opportunity to densify it," he said, adding that a lot of Housing NZ stock was near the end of its useful life.

Housing NZ CEO Andrew McKenzie also made the point about renewing obsolete stock in his comments to the Constructive forum in Christchurch in September last year, which was the first indication the Government could look to build up to 30,000 new homes in Auckland. Here's our Newsroom Pro report from that event.

McKenzie emphasised then that Housing New Zealand faced a massive task renewing most of its stock of 64,000 houses, two-thirds of which were built from 1936 to 1966 and were nearing the end of their design lives, or needed refurbishment. Houses built after then also needed refurbishing.

"The stock built post 1966 tended to have a design life of 50 years so that is about 15,000 houses there which, again, is coming to the end of its life," McKenzie told the Forum.

"When you look at the renewal and replacement schedule in the asset management plan, we've got a massive mountain of work to do in the next 20-30 years as those 64,000 houses, just about all of them, come to the end of their life," he said.

6. Chart of the year

A chart (above) compiled by ANZ's Sharon Zollner is another way of looking at the economic and political challenges for the Government in the next few months before the election.

It shows the correlation at least between the immigration rate for non New Zealanders and New Zealand First's poll ratings.

It suggests Winston Peters has a strong hand going into the final few months of the campaign as net migration remains at record highs and at the centre of the debate. A weak Labour-Green vote also gives New Zealand First a bigger chance of being the kingmaker in its own right.

7. A Key appointment

Former Prime Minister John Key was given his first major appointment yesterday. Air New Zealand announced it had appointed him as a director from September 1.

He has been out and about overseas though, and talking more about the global issues than he has been in New Zealand. He gave an interview to the Phnom Penh Post while visiting there last week.

But the most influential New Zealander in the world right now may actually be Chris Liddell, the former Carter Holt CEO, Microsoft CFO and GM CFO, who is now working at the heart of the White House.

Axios reported this morning that Liddell, the White House's director of strategic initiatives, will be the co-head of a new American Technology Council to coordinate technology strategy between the US Government and the private sector.

8. One fun thing

Trolling tweet of the day from Tau Henare:

"Dear #WillieJackson, so #21 on the list is not so bad, hell I made it back at #40 so" ...