Northland by-election – a damning poll and a damnable lie?





A recent TV3 poll and associated story yielded two interesting observations. Firstly, that Winston Peters has a better chance of winning the Northland by-election than Labour.

Secondly, that the National candidate, Mark Osborne, is quite likely a liar.

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The Poll

Despite TV3’s Patrick Gower thoroughly unprofessional interview with Winston Peters on The Nation, on 28 February, where he condescendingly referred to the NZ First leader’s candidacy in the Northland by-election as “a stunt” with “very little chance of winning here” – a TV3-Reid Research poll has put Peters firmly in the lead.

Peters’ lead is a commanding five percentage points over his nearest rival, National’s Mark Osborne;


tv3 poll- northland by-election - 5 march 2015


The poll results are a stunning up-set for National and creates serious doubt whether the Key government can survive a full three-year term.

The poll also revealed that Northland voters are far from “relaxed” about the police investigation  surrounding former Northland MP, Mike Sabin, which evidently began in August last year;


tv3 poll- should voters have been told sabin was under police invstigation - by-election poll - 5 march 2015

Even a clear majority of National voters agreed with the question whether “voters should have been told Mike Sabin was under investigation”;


tv3 poll- should voters have been told sabin was under police invstigation - national voters - by-election poll - 5 march 2015


The TV3 poll is evidently backed up by a  “secret poll” recently referenced by the National Business Review.

From a majority of 9,300 in the 2014 election, National is now set for a crushing, humiliating defeat. Worse still, it will take their numbers in the House from 60 to 59 with reliance on ACT, Peter Dunne, and the Maori Party to pass legislation and survive confidence votes.

Any further by-elections between now and 2017, and even support from ACT and Peter Dunne may not be sufficient to save this government. For the first time since the first MMP government was formed in 1996, New Zealand could see an early election, and the subsequent demise of John Key’s political career.

On 35%, Peters has a fairly good chance of taking Northland. But with 19% Undecideds – the outcome is by no means “done and dusted”.

This is still a First Past the Post election, and Osborne could still win the electorate with one single vote, even with a majority voting against him.

Labour Leader Andrew Little should re-visit his comments on Radio NZ’s Morning Report on 3 March, where he stated that the Labour candidate, Willow-Jean Prime “was in with a chance“.

Little also said that he did not know “where Peters stands in terms of peoples’ affections for him” in the electorate.

I suggest that the TV3 poll is a fairly clear indication.

Little added, “I’m just not convinced that the level of support is there for Winston that some people claim“.

Perhaps the poll may begin to convince Little that  “the level of support is there for Winston“.

Guyon Espiner pointedly  asked Little “are you  open to being convinced if a poll were to come out“?

Little replied that it thought it was “unlikely“.

It is no longer unlikely, and indeed, it is likely that Labour’s Ms Prime will come a distant third in what has quickly become a two-horse race.

The question for Labour, now, is what is more important?

  1. Contesting a by-election on a point of principle even at the cost of  potentially helping National retain the seat?
  2. Swallowing pride; adopting a truckload of pragmatism;  giving Peters a free run; and perhaps hastening the demise of this increasingly self-serving government?

Former Labour president, Mike William said on 4 March, on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme, that he would have counselled against Labour contesting the by-election. Williams cited cost and Peters working alongside Labour to assist Kelvin Davis to win the Te Tai Tokerau electorate last year.

If Peters wins Northland, it would be a win/win for the Opposition;

  1. The government’s majority would fall by one,
  2. The government would become more vulnerable to future by-elections,
  3. Peters would have to vote with the Opposition on every important issue that mattered. Peters simply could not afford to vote with National and risk being seen as another coalition partner alongside Dune, ACT, and the Maori Party.

The question that Andrew Little should ask himself every day and night from now on is; do I really want to risk splitting the opposition vote in Northland and thereby help John Key preserve his government?

Because in the final analysis, that is what it boils down to.

The Lie?

In the TV3 video with Gower’s voice-over, note Osborne’s response (at 2:16) to an off-video question regarding the curious circumstances surrounding Mike Sabin’s sudden resignation from Parliament on 30 January;

“Ah, I’m not aware of the situation or the circumstances behind it.”

Then note Peters’ response (at 2:20) to Osborne’s comment;

“They all knew. And at the top. Including my opponent, who was a Treasurer of the organisation.”

If Peters is correct and Osborne was (is?) the Treasurer of the Northland Branch of the National Party – then it is inconceivable that he was unaware of Sabin’s situation and the police investigation.

Enquiries made to the National Party, by phoning the Electorate Office, and on Twitter,  on the morning of 6 March have not resulted in any responses to questions on this issue.

Electorate committee executives are almost always the first to find out what is happening on their own patch. For Osborne to deny any knowledge of Sabin’s situation is simply not credible.

Osborne was either kept out of the loop by other electorate executives; never attended committee meetings; and never spoke to other committee members – or he is lying.

Which is more likely?

Not exactly an auspicious start to his nascent political career?

Perhaps he is following in his Dear Leader’s footsteps.





TV3 The Nation: Transcript – NZ First leader Winston Peters

TV3 News:  Peters on track to win Northland seat

TVNZ News: Police asked questions about Mike Sabin six months ago

NBR: UPDATED: The fix isn’t in – Labour to contest Northland

Wikipedia: 2014 General Election results

Radio NZ: Labour won’t rule out deal in Northland byelection (audio)

Radio NZ: Labour urged to make way for Peters in Northland

National Party: Northland electorate

National Party: Twitter

Other blogs

Bowalley Road: Sorry Winston – Why Labour Needs To Stand In Northland

Polity: Herald on Northland

Polity: Game on

Public Address: The Northland by-election; or The so-called Tizard Effect

The Daily Blog: Why National might lose Northland and why Labour can’t win

The Daily Blog: Poll shows Winston winning Northland

The Dim Post: Northland

The Standard: On Northland

The Standard: Northland Polls; Horrorshow for National



Northland by-election - the public going to sleep



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  1. When referring to Mike Sabin, I would appreciate it if people respected Court suppression orders and did not engage in speculation regarding his alleged offences. Such speculation puts TDB into a tricky situation where we could potentially face legal action for defamation or contempt or both.

    Please keep it general, people.

    Thank you.

  2. Ironic that back in Sir Robert Muldoons day ,…that if he were here now…he would be counted as a classic Left leaning politician. Well , …Winston had a lot to do with those Muldoon years..

    Said before I was disappointed that Peters was part of that group that checked Hones chances…

    However…for Andrew Little to not see the enormous potential ramifications of Winston winning in Northland , – what it could mean for this country , – what it COULD mean for the restoration of balance , sensibility , and the security of hundreds of thousands of our citizens…would be tantamount to political folly – even irresponsibility.

    Not least of which the checking of these anti democratic, autocratic decisions being made based on obvious constant ulterior motives.

    Possibly even the removal of the instigators themselves.


    And Andrew ? , – don’t be an obstruction to sanity.

    • 100000% Frank and Wild Katipo,

      I saw the smirk on Key’s face tonight as he said “we are sending all misinformation”!!

      What misinformation Secretive Mr Key as you will not release the contents of the TPPA so how can we know what you are placing around our necks??

      Please dear God send a message to Andrew Little and pay back Winston as Winston did pull out for you for labour to win Kelvin Davis’s bid.

      This is surely Frank’s finest speech;

      “The question that Andrew Little should ask himself every day and night from now on is; do I really want to risk splitting the opposition vote in Northland and thereby help John Key preserve his government? Because in the final analysis, that is what it boils down to.”

      Great message Frank.

  3. Seems to me Osborne is typical Natsy material. Obviously lying about what he knew about Sabin, despite being involved in Sabin’s office and last campaign! So Osborne is a case of follow the leader and lie your head off!

    If the word was out in August last year that Sabin was being investigated by police, then Key would have known and so would have Sabin’s team. But Key went ahead with Sabin still in the seat, deceiving not only the Northland electorate, but also NZ as well! A fraudulent election no doubt! Then Key had the audacity to promote Sabin to the chair of the select committee for law and order, post election!

    Key has only decided to visit Northland, because of the recent poll showing Winston in the lead. Otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered, because he (Key) doesn’t give a big rat’s backside for the region! National has ignored it for years. For him it’s just another seat to keep him in power to allow him to continue his brand of dirty politics and to hell with the people there!

    I’m not a NZ First supporter, but I say Go Winston. Give the Natsy patsy Osborne hell and do Northland a favour and take the seat. Now that will give Key a real kick in the you-know-whats 🙂

  4. I heard that myself at the time and was not surprised at all to learn that Osborne’s story had changed by the next day. It seems they all knew and they are all liars. What else is there to say about these scumbags that have taken over MY country.

  5. This is a superb summary of the Northland byelection.

    I have to say that I admire Macskasy’s meticulousness referencing, and dedication to detail. For many on blogs; it is all about who says something first, no matter if there is only about as much information as a single tweet. Which just makes FM’s writing a brighter example of what true citizen journalism could be.

    Osbourne’s reply; “Ah, I’m not aware of the situation or the circumstances behind it.”, does seem cast in the classic Key brain fade mold. It doesn’t say that he never had that information, just that he is not currently aware of it: Implausible deniability.

    • @ Pasupial – have to agree with you re Frank Macskasy. He’s a gem and an excellent journalist. Everything backed up with evidence to support his statements.

      TDB is fortunate to have someone of the calibre of Frank onside. He leaves the likes of msm’s Armstrong, O’Sullivan, Trevatt, Small, Watkins et al for dead, when it comes to journalistic skills and attention to detail.

      Osborne will suit Key perfectly. A noddy yes man all the way through! Wouldn’t dare challenge dear leader. But he won’t be getting the opportunity to reach government. Winston will see to that I’m sure, with the help of the good folk of Northland.

  6. Ah… while I don’t like having to be the goat here ;…. I have to ask . ” What ! ? ”

    While I would really , really like to love Winny the Loveable Lawyer I don’t trust the condescending sneer in a suit as far as I could throw his empty hair spray cans . I admit , he’s more amenable now that his testosterone is draining away ( Who’s isn’t though right ? ) but by God ! I’ll not be forgetting the Whine Box enquiries in a hurry . Back then ? I watched an artisan Machiavellian Confederate in full cry as he out manoeuvred and outflanked any real inquiry as the poor old Cook Islands withered under the spot lit glare of the Global media .

    Seriously , I’m calling you up and I’m telling you your dreamin’, to think that if Winsome Winston ‘ wins ‘ the Northland by-election, he’ll not then run giggling, skipping and flush of cheek to the Mighty Yankee Doodle Jonky – Stien . For a better deal for all them old, grey, dears of course .

    One doesn’t need to take LSD to see rats in pin stripe suits .

    As for mike sabin and mark osborne ! ? Jeeesus christ ! What’s in the water up there ??

  7. I live in Northland. If Mark Osborne knows less about the Sabin situation than me he is too out of touch, too uninterested, too naive or simply too thick to be an MP.

    Any or all of those, or out and out lying are the only ways he could claim lack of knowledge.

  8. Key doesn’t give a rats backside about MPs pay rises either, he’s only accepting that needs to change now because he’s in trouble and he’ll take the credit for a decision that belongs to Parliament not him personally.

  9. I find it disturbing that 33% of National voters don’t think they needed to be told about Sabin being under police investigation. I find that is staggering that so many people are not concerned about deliberately being kept ignorant about important information about the National candidate that voters had every right to know. Seemingly some National voters are just lemmings.
    The fact that Labour still do not understand MMP is also equally disturbing, Andrew Little either prefers National to retain this seat as he like the PM loathes Winston or he and his strategists still don’t get MMP.
    A NZ First win in the by–election is in Labours’ best interest as it will weaken National and make them very vulnerable.
    Sometimes I do wonder if the current Labour caucus are serious about regaining the Treasury benches, I get the impression they are all quite comfortable in Opposition.

  10. Suppression orders are ridiculous, anyone paying attention can put two and two together and know what Sabin is accused of. Key knew what he was accused of, and still appointed him to chair a law and order select committee. This puts Key on the same moral level as Sabin.

    If the mods remove this I understand, but I hate it when those in power collude to protect their own.

    • The Courts have already come down hard on Cameron Slater for breaking name suppression orders. It’s not something I want to see happen to this site and it’s administrators. Them’s the rules, and we have to abide by them. It’s not something I take pleasure in, Robert, but we have have to be careful.

  11. Winston,may very well win the seat.However will his winning forward the election, doubt it, as Winnie is back to his old stomping home ground and also will be in his old home political ground the National Party.

    Osborne!s position within the local Party branch was secretary treasurer.

  12. Just another liar amongst the National Party lot, does it surprise, I ask? Key is leading by “example”, a poor example.

    There are more liars amongst them than in any other party, I suspect.

  13. If Winston, had his way and the Maori seats where abolished,then might be game on for a monster shift.

  14. National won dirty at the election but the Sabin-Con should make normal people sick at how the nats do things.

    Nationals Dirty Politics PR crew are obviously feeding the Nats their ” heard rumors ” lines because Mark Osbornes “I’d heard rumors” is exactly the same line Key kept repeating on the 29th January in a radio interview where he was defending keeping Sabin on as chair of the Justice & Law committee …

    And on the 29th of January 2015 Sabin-Con was still in that position.

    Key kept saying that he’d ” heard rumors” during this interview but he was very sketchy on when ………… he has kept revising his dates as evidence comes out contradicting his inaccurate statements during the Sabin-Con affair.

    It all takes Dirty Politics to new depths and lets face it ….. the country is getting more ugly and dangerous under National rule.

    Thats the rotten trickle down effect flowing from no morals or ethics in John key and his DP club ………………….

    Go Winston 🙂 …………. the Nats hate him because he stopped the tax fraud going on with the wine box scam ……. that cost a few Nat supporters a lot of money.

  15. The current government is ILLEGITIMATE!

    Too many things were concealed that NZrs needed to know BEFORE the election, Sabin was just one of them.

  16. Well, I listened to that TV3 video twice to be sure and it’s been edited out. No surprises there then!! Well actually I am stunned at the audacity of ‘who’? Big brother? What is going on here?
    As far as osbourne goes – I would not buy a car from this man as he looks untrustworthy and also he sounds like he is trying to hide something.

  17. If Winston Peters is to have a good show of winning in Northland,we need to have his word he wouldn’t support National, polititions are not known for honouring promises , but we have to trust Winston that he wont be a vote for National,
    With quite a few parties standing the vote is likely to be split .
    Labour is being pig headed in standing, just like they were when the last election saw them lose because Cunliffe followed National in decrying Greens and internet/ mana, who would have supported Labour.
    National had a coalition with anything they could get, if Greens had offered to support Key they would have been part of coalition, in fact to ensure they won they would have taken internet/mana as partners.!
    Either Labour dosnt understand strategic tactics or are making the same mistake twice, most people in Northland made it plain they believed National spin of discrediting Labour as a weak party,the Herald
    made sure of that, and Labour didn’t use all the chances with partners to ensure a close contest.
    If Labour wont use the right strategy this time to ensure National lose, they wont be held in high regard by people who do want National to lose.
    Labour has never been a presence in Northland and hasn’t helped the region much at all, The region has been blue for so long that National took it for granted and ignored us. John Carters popularity ensured a win for National but National has lost that edge with inferior candidates.
    Key probably thought he could put a trained monkey in and would win, but Northland people want a genuine candidate ,maybe its Winston ,Key appears uneasy about him because Winston is not backward in challenging him.
    So the Northland election comes down to trust. If Winston wins its to be hoped he dosnt let us down.

    • Hi Peter,

      Blogposts on TDB are generally published around 8ish in the morning (with a second, mid-day publishing). This blogpost appeared in the morning trance of publications.

      TV3’s ‘The Nation’ appeared about an hour and a half later (9.30am) on the day this story was published.

      So my piece preceded Little’s statement by about an hour and a half.

      At the risk of indulging in a colossal display of hubris on my part, I’d like to think my voice was a part of the many hundreds, thousands, who spoke to the Labour Party hierarchy.

      Personally, I think Little could have been more aggressive in his statement; much more clearer (as Patrick Gower suggested), and not pissed about quite so much.

      I think the public would’ve appreciated had Little “cut the crap” and come straight out by saying, “Let’s get real here, shall we? Labour can’t win. It’s a safe Tory seat. Peters can. I have no great desire to assist National in retaining their Parliamentary majority, so we’re calling it a day and leaving it to Peters to slog it out with the National candidate whose-name-I-can’t-recall-but-reminds-me-of-Hoss-Cartwight…”

      Little has started out developing a reputation for straight talking. He needs to keep it up. The public will respect him for it. Even the media may be less inclined to take the p*ss if they know Little will go for their knees/nuts if they muck him about.

      His performance on Saturday morning was cringeworthy, to put it kindly.

  18. As Frank rightly said Peter,

    “The question that Andrew Little should ask himself every day and night from now on is; do I really want to risk splitting the opposition vote in Northland and thereby help John Key preserve his government? Because in the final analysis, that is what it boils down to.”

    “One day is a long time in politics” Andrew.

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