20 political predictions for 2012
On Saturday, our political team rated their forecasts for 2011, earning a solid but hardly earth-shattering 128/200.
So rather than lick their wounds, they have decided to do it all over again, listing their top 20 picks for the political year ahead.
They will be back at the end of the year to assess how clearly their crystal ball was working and help themselves to another heaped plate of humble pie.
1. Speaker Lockwood Smith will be our next High Commissioner to London and will be replaced as Speaker by Primary Industries Minister David Carter.
2. Labour will be comfortably over 30 per cent in the final polls of the year and David Shearer will be well-ensconced as leader.
3. Former forecaster Brendan Horan will prove to be NZ First's own weather bomb.
4. Parekura Horomia will not leave Parliament. A fate-tempting one this, after our previous failures picking the end of the Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP's career and a similar track record with Jim Anderton. (In Mr Anderton's case, it was only when we stopped picking he would leave that he felt free to go).
5. A minister will be forced to resign over an employment issue or an ethical lapse.
6. Continued economic problems in Europe spill over into Asia, forcing the Treasury to cut its forecasts, scotching hopes of a return to surplus by 2014-15.
7. NZ First will be under 5 per cent in the polls at the end of the year. And probably at the start as well.
8. Labour will signal key elements of its tax reforms are for the scrapheap, starting with the $5000 tax-free band.
9. The Greens' election score of 11 per cent will be its high point, and the party will not better it in polls during 2012.
10. John Key will sign a free trade deal with Russia, but not before the Apec meeting at Vladivostok.
11. National's Alfred Ngaro, the Greens' Eugenie Sage and Labour's David Clark will be the surprise performers among the 2011 backbench intake.
12. ACT will choose a new leader, and it won't be its sole MP, John Banks.
13. Whatever the state of the sharemarket, and however much the opposition protests, the partial sale of Mighty River Power will go ahead, raising about $1.8 billion net.
14. The Maori Party will have a change of leader – and with two co-leaders in a three-person caucus there are not too many options.
15. In a return to form, Winston Peters will reveal a scandal in a government department and drip-feed information in the House over several weeks. Deja vu all over again.
16. Despite current predictions, the rebuild of central Christchurch will not be in full swing by year's end, prompting the Treasury to delay any significant impact on economic growth from the construction work.
17. NZ First will pick former North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams as its deputy leader.
18. 2012 will be a by-election-free year. That's a hope as much as a prediction.
19. John Key will visit Europe during the Olympics in London. What a lucky coincidence.
20. The Maori Party will beat last year's record and go through more than three press secretaries.
Not The Top 20 Predictions
This year, for the first time, we are also presenting our "Not the Top 20 predictions"; though if some come true, don't blame us.
1. NZ First leader Winston Peters will leave his GoldCard at home and have to pay for a bus ride to the Beehive.
2. Foreign Minister Murray McCully will dye his hair blond, just so he can fit in at the office.
3. Green MP and Rhodes scholar Holly Walker will tweet about something other than morning tea and frocks.
4. Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson will find a new way not to say he wants to be leader.
5. Mana leader Hone Harawira will apologise ... but maybe just the once.
6. Ministers will rise up as one and cry "Slap it on the credit card".
7. Greens co-leader Russel Norman will start an answer with a word other than "So ..."
8. Trade Minister Tim Groser will get a tattoo on his arm which says "WTO rules".
9. ACT MP John Banks will fall out with himself and storm out of caucus on principle.
10. Standing orders will be revised so the media can broadcast pictures if a fist-fight breaks out in the chamber.
11. Labour leader David Shearer will see a military guard of honour on Parliament's front steps and try to broker a peace deal.
12. Maori co-leader Tariana Turia will say things were much better under Helen Clark's rule.
13. After a tireless search, Labour broadcasting spokeswoman Clare Curran will finally find an example of New Zealand journalism that is better than anything from overseas.
14. The Treasury will not forecast a return to 3 per cent growth in four years.
15. Prime Minister John Key will shout Charles and Camilla a beer.
16. Green MP Mojo Mathers will get so sick of people telling her she has the coolest name in politics she will punch someone, softly.
17. Labour MP Shane Jones will watch The Sound of Music in his hotel during a regional development conference.
18. National MP Tau Henare will go a whole day without tweeting.
19. NZ First MP Richard Prosser will say something really sensible.
20. National MP Colin King will rate himself easily the most effective MP for Kaikoura.
The Dominion Post