Newsroom Pro's 8 things at 8: Green MPs resign in protest; Inflation expectations fall

James Shaw reacted swiftly after two Green MPs said they would resign over Metiria Turei's benefit fraud revelations. Photo: Sam Sachdeva

In today's email we catch up after another busy day - and night - at parliament.

1. Green MPs resign in protest

We all thought a couple of months ago this election would not be quite so fevered and unpredictable as the 2014 'Dirty Politics' election.

National appearing to be sailing calmly towards a fourth term, albeit probably in some sort of arrangement with New Zealand First. That may still happen, but the events of the last six weeks have shown that New Zealand's political landscape can be just as volatile as those overseas.

In the space of six weeks we've had a National back-bench scandal that damaged the Prime Minister's standing, a revelation of welfare and electoral fraud by the Green Party's co-leader, a sharp rise in Green support at the expense of Labour that prompted a lightening and popular leadership change from Andrew Little to Jacinda Ardern, and now an open revolt within the Green Party.

The National Party may look to simply re-run its ad from the 2014 election of a sleek blue rowing skiff powering past a chaotic dinghy full of feuding opposition MPs as its campaign ad for 2017 after the events of the last week.

The appearance of unity inside the Green Party behind Metiria Turei's revelation of welfare and fraud electoral collapsed in spectacular fashion last night.

List MPs Kennedy Graham and David Clendon resigned in protest at Turei's continued decision to defend her actions and stay on as co-leader.

They told RNZ late yesterday they would resign unless Turei resigned and that her continuing justification of her actions were untenable with the standards of leadership for the Green Party.

Shortly thereafter, they resigned from the Green Party list and a Green Party official said they had been unhappy with their lowly list rankings and had not been working for the party.

Co-Leader James Shaw then held a late night news conference in Parliament where he said he would move a motion at this morning's caucus meeting to have them suspended from the caucus and potentially removed from the Party altogether.

Shaw said he felt betrayed by their actions and supported Turei's stance. He acknowledged the damage it had done to the Green Party.

Turei has already ruled herself out as a potential cabinet minister in a Labour-Green Government, although Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern has also said she would not select her.

The fresh signs of dissension puts the Labour-Green memorandum of understanding to change the Government in the spotlight and opens up an opportunity for National to campaign as a more stable option than a potential Labour-Green-New Zealand First Government, given all three opposition leaders have criticised each other in sharp terms in recent weeks.

So much for a boring election campaign and a predictable result.

See more in Sam Sachdeva's report put on Newsroom Pro last night.

2. Another major investigation

Newsroom's investigations editor Melanie Reid has led another major series of exclusives that is being published this morning on Newsroom.

The 'Taken By the State' series reveals a Family Court Practice described as barbaric which allows police to take children from their parents with no prior warning.

The series includes three cases that Melanie and the Newsroom team have investigated, including one where a child was taken from school by police, one where a child is taken from her mother's kitchen early in the morning, and one where police used a crowbar to break into home where a seven year old child hid in a wardrobe.

The series includes distressing videos and the results of months of investigations of the cases and the practices in the Family Court.

Professor Mark Henaghan, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Otago, says Family Court judges would feel much differently about issuing the orders if they could see footage of how distressing the uplifts are.

"You can’t tell me that it is in the welfare and best interest of children," he says.

More and more, uplifts are becoming a battle of enforcement and they terrorise the children involved, he says.

President of the Police Association Chris Cahill says uplifts are tough on police too, with officers used as pawns in “wider games by parents”.

3. Behind the parenting orders

Newsroom's National Affairs Editor in Wellington, Shane Cowlishaw, explains here the parenting orders, warrants to uplift, and without-notice applications used in these cases operate.

He reports figures from the Ministry of Justice show in the 12 months to June 30 last year 600 warrants were issued under section 72 and 73 of the act. A similar amount were issued in the previous 12-month period.

Before this, the number of warrants was significantly lower – about 400 were issued across the equivalent 12 month periods between 2012 and 2014.

See Shane's explainer in full here.

4. Inflation expectations fall

In another sign that official interest rates are likely to remain on hold until well into next year or even 2019, the Reserve Bank reported yesterday that its survey of inflation expectations in the September quarter found significant drops.

Respondents' expectations of inflation one year ahead fell to 1.77 percent from 1.92 percent in the previous quarter, while expectations of inflation two years ahead fell to 2.09 percent from 2.17 percent.

This series is closely watched. A surprise drop in March 2016 helped trigger a surprise cut in the Official Cash Rate.

However, the expectations measure often closely tracks the actual inflation figures in previous months and the fall in the September quarter reflects the fall in headline inflation in the June quarter, when there was no inflation after a fall in fuel prices.

Economists said the fall was relatively subdued and was unlikely to prompt immediate action, but would reinforce expectations that interest rates would be on hold for another year at least.

We'll get more insight on the Reserve Bank's thinking when it releases its September quarter Monetary Policy Statement on Thursday morning.

5. Numbers of the day:

56 percent - A Reid Research poll published on Newshub last night found 56 percent of respondents said the Todd Barclay affair had hurt the credibility of Prime Minister Bill English.

Over 450 texts - The number of texts sent over a period of a year by English to Glenys Dickson, the electorate staffer at the centre of the Barclay affair. English did not deny he had sent the texts in his post-cabinet news conference yesterday and repeated that he was not involved in the settlement negotiated with Dickson.

3.5-4.0 percent - The annual employment growth rate through the second half of 2016 and early 2017, as estimated by Treasury after adjusting for a shift in employment levels measured in a survey rejig by Statistics New Zealand. The rejigged survey had suggested an annual growth rate of around six percent over that period.

6. Quotes of the day:

Green Party Co-Leader James Shaw saying he felt betrayed by David Clendon and Kennedy Graham going public with their criticism of Metiria Turei:

"The way that they have chosen to go about it is strongly in violation of every Green Party norm, culture and process that we have. What they are doing is placing the campaign at risk."

Deborah Mackenzie, co-founder of Backbone Collective - a group run by, and for, survivors of violence against women, on the practice of Police removing children from homes:

"What we’re hearing from women around the country is that the police are being used in situations where the children are in absolutely no imminent danger at all. So it’s a very brutal and cold way of uplifting children. It seems unbelievable in the extreme that the Family Court would use such a brutal intervention to enforce a parenting order. It’s state-sanctioned abuse. I can’t think of any other way to describe it."

7. Coming up...

The Green, Labour and National party caucuses will have meetings this morning.

Parliament resumes at 2 pm. There are just six sitting days left in this session of Parliament before the election.

8. One fun thing

There have already been plenty of shenanigans on the campaign trail, but at least some of the billboard defacements are a bit more imaginative this time around.

Here's Peter Dunne complaining (with a wink) about someone cutting his bow tie out of one of his billboards in Ohariu (picture here):

"Someone's stolen my bow tie! If you wanted it so badly we could've just talked!"

Some of the old Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Little billboards are having one or the other cut out.

This one had both.