In today's email we look at the latest poll results, ask whether the Accommodation Supplement increase will simply be captured by landlords, discover that our intelligence service has concerns about Trump, and dig into the Point England housing debate.
1. Winston in pole position in poll
The monthly Roy Morgan poll published on Friday night continues to show the National and the Labour-Green vote neck and neck, putting Winston Peters in pole position as the kingmaker in the September 23 election.
The poll of 856 voters from May 1 to May 14 found support for National unchanged at 43 percent, while combined support for Labour and the Greens was also unchanged at 42.5 percent (Labour down 1 to 42.5 percent and Greens up 1 to 14 percent). New Zealand First was down 0.5 percent at 10 percent, but still clearly in the kingmaker position if this poll was replicated on election night.
However, it's also clear the Government is not broadly unpopular in the same way previous third term Governments were less than six months before fourth term elections. The poll found 60.5 percent of voters thought the country was "headed in the right direction", up 2.5 percent from the previous month. It found 27 percent thought the country was "headed in the wrong direction."
In May 2008, when the then Labour Government was about to lose power, the same 'right direction, wrong direction' question found 38 percent of voters thought the country was headed in the right direction, with 44.5 percent seeing it going in the wrong direction.
Here's the results for 'right direction, wrong direction' going back to 2007.
2. 'Landlord capture'
The debate over the family incomes package in last week's Budget is shifting to whether the big Accommodation Supplement increase will simply be pocketed by landlords.
Treasury and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet warned before the 2015 Budget when considering an Accommodation Supplement increase that there may be a risk of "landlord capture" of any increase.
This Treasury advice document from December 2014 refers to the risk, while this DPMC document from April 2015 refers to concerns about landlord capture as one of the reasons why an Accommodation Supplement option was not pursued then.
Meanwhile, Steven Joyce has referred to MSD research done in 2015 which he said showed the last Accommodation Supplement increase in 2005 did not lead to rent increases. It has yet to be released in full.
This 2004 analysis for MSD by Adolf Stroombergen "strongly suggests that changes in the Accommodation Supplement have not affected market rents."
3. Our spooks' concerns about Trump
Newsroom's Foreign Affairs and Trade Editor Sam Sachdeva reports from an interview with Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn that our intelligence agencies are concerned about Donald Trump's support for torture and various intelligence disclosures.
Gwyn told Sam that Donald Trump’s statements in support of torture, coupled with disclosures of classified information, have increased the importance of safeguards on New Zealand’s intelligence-sharing relationships with other countries.
Asked about the leaks of US intelligence, she said: “I think it’s an issue that the agencies are very aware of, and will be looking at. I can’t indicate direct discussions, but I’m confident that it’s an issue on their radar.”
See Sam's full story here.
4. The battle for Point England
Last week the Point England Development Enabling Bill was debated in Parliament and became the focus in the clash over housing between National and Labour.
Newsroom's Alexia Russell has taken a deeper look at the debate on the ground in Auckland. She finds the voice that is markedly absent from this debate is that of Ngati Paoa. The iwi is keeping its head down until the legislation is wrapped up.
5. Redundancy hit
There's a lot of talk around at the moment about the future of work and how flexible the economy is as people shift from one job to the next, and whether the Government should intervene more to cushion the blow of job loss and change.
Newsroom's National Affairs Editor Shane Cowlishaw has found some Motu research that shows the effects of an involuntary job loss can be substantial and long-lasting.
6. While you were sleeping
In yet another bombshell from the White House, The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, asked the Russian ambassador immediately after the election if he could use secure Russian lines to communicate with the Kremlin during the transition.
Trump declared on Twitter this morning the reports were "fake news" and Trump's Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly defended Kushner's reported actions. "Any channel of communications, back or otherwise, is a good thing," Kelly said in TV interview on Sunday.
In other signs Trump is continuing to upturn the global order of things, Axios reported Trump had told confidants he would withdraw America from the Paris Climate Change deal later this week.
Meanwhile, in the wake of Trump's refusal to endorse article 5 of the Nato pact on joint defense, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said overnight that Germany and Europe could no longer completely rely on its allies and "must really take our fate into our own hands." (Reuters).
7. Coming up...
Prime Minister Bill English is scheduled to give his weekly post-cabinet news conference in Wellington this afternoon.
Parliament resumes on Tuesday for the second week of a three week block that will be consumed with debate and legislation about the Budget.
The Reserve Bank will release its six monthly Financial Stability Report on Wednesday at 9 am, with a news conference scheduled for later in the morning. Governor Graeme Wheeler and his officials will then appear before the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee later in the morning.
8. One fun thing
Donald Trump's white knuckle handshake with new French President Emmanuel Macron was one of the televisual moments of his overseas trip, along with Macron's body swerve away from Trump to Merkel at the last minute. Here's what Macron said of that handshake:
"My handshake with him, it wasn't innocent. One must show that you won't make small concessions, even symbolic."