National, Greens may boost Labour vote

National continues to warn of the dangers of a Labour government pushed into implementing radical policies by the Greens, while the Greens keep saying they would push Labour into being ‘bolder’.

This may have the reverse effect to what both parties want – more people voting for Labour to reduce or eliminate Green influence. And going by recent polls there’s a real possibility Labour could get enough votes to either govern alone, or if they choose to govern with a majority but with a weakened Green Party in coalition.

Voting for National will probably do nothing but reduce their embarrassment a bit, they look a long way from challenging Labour even with ACT.

Voting Green will increase the chances of them making the threshold, and if the manage that it will increase the chances of Labour requiring Green support and increase Green leverage in policy negotiations.

ODT: Labour ‘cannot govern alone’: Greens

The Greens are warning their supporters that Labour “cannot govern alone”, and their party is the only one bold enough to meet the challenges New Zealand faces.

And, despite repeated rebuffs by Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw say a wealth tax is still firmly on the table if Greens negotiate with Labour post-election.

“They can say what they need to in an [election] campaign,” Davidson said when asked about Ardern’s repeated flat-out rejection of the plan.

That keeps feeding National ammunition to attack Labour with, which Judith Collins has been doing.

Davidson said the fact that National has been hammering this policy so hard was a “sign of their desperation”.

“It has become alarmingly clear that the priority of National, and the other smaller parties, is not to keep us safe … but to divide us, and to make us scared, in the pursuit of power,” she said during her speech.

In his speech, Shaw made something of a call to action to his supporters.

“At this election, I can confidently say that the Green Party is the only party putting forward proposals that are actually bold enough to meet the scale of the challenges we face.”

And Davidson took it further: “Labour cannot govern alone.”

“Unchallenged decisions can mean bad decisions, and with the Greens at the decision-making table, we’ll make sure that we truly face the challenges we’ve been ignoring for too long.”

This is a contrast to last election when Greens went out of their way to play down concerns about what influence they might have on Labour in government.

Green survival depends on getting 5%, so they are having to compete with Labour for votes.

Collins has kept trying to hammer Labour, repeatedly insisting that the Green wealth tax would be a certainty. RNZ: Judith Collins says Greens ‘unemployable’ in latest wealth tax attack

Collins has spent much of her time in recent days warning voters about the Greens’ proposed wealth tax, arguing Labour leader Jacinda Ardern would break her promise not to introduce it.

Regardless of National’s position, Ardern says not is not the time for experimental taxes.

“One of the reasons we have ruled out the Green Party policy is because no other country has this form of taxation. Now is not the time to be experimenting with tax policy when we need to focus on our economic recovery.”

Collins would not budge, saying she believed her concerns were very real, and rejecting the claims of desperation.

“No, I think they’re very real … she shouldn’t go into name calling. “

She took her attacks on the Green Party further still, saying the Greens “didn’t really pay taxes before entering Parliament”.

“Well, most of them are unemployable I always thought. The whole lot of them. Don’t mean to be nasty but there we go, it’s the truth.”

She says having co-leader Marama Davidson as deputy prime minister “would be challenging for the country”.

The role of Deputy Prime Minister has no more power than any other Minister. All they have to do is occasionally fill in for the Prime Minister. Winston Peters did it this term and simply carried out a caretaker role. He had far more power in coalition negotiations.

I’m not a fan of Davidson at all, but I have no concerns with her becoming Deputy PM.

There is also one MP who is still supporting Collins:

But that’s false. Voting National instead of Labour would increase the chances of Greens having more influence. Voting Labour instead of National is the most effective way of reducing Green influence.

Ardern versus Collins in online Stuff debate tonight

Another leaders debate to be live streamed at 7 pm tonight.

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins go round three in The Press Leaders Debate tonight

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins are in Christchurch tonight for the South Island’s only election debate, live on Stuff from 7pm.

It will be moderated on Tuesday evening by The Press editor Kamala Hayman and Stuff’s political editor Luke Malpass. The Press is part of the Stuff family of newspapers.

The Press Leaders Debate will be held with a lively sold-out audience of 750 at the James Hay Theatre.

The debate will be split in half with a 15-minute intermission, when Stuff’s head of video Carol Hirschfeld will discuss the debate with Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce CEO Leeann Watson and Canterbury University senior political lecturer Dr Lindsey Te Ata o Tu MacDonald.

Henry Cooke will also live blog the debate here.


Casting the live stream worked for a short time but them went wonky so i mostly just listened to it streaming on my PC.

Ardern was generally very good. There was plenty of under-achievements she could have been challenged on but that wasn’t done very well.

This was Collins’ worst debate. She started too shouty, and then she seemed to fluctuate between loud and weak with a bit too much smarmy thrown in. Her repeated reference to her opponent as Miss Ardern sounds out of whack this century. Generally I think she didn’t come across very well for a lot of the debate.

Ardern attacked much less but when she did she made it count.

This won’t have anywhere near the audience as the televised debates, which is probably just as well for Collins and for National. Especially with their ongoing ructions in the party I don’t see how they can get close to Labour.

Debates – from awful to very good

The US presidential debate yesterday was awful. It was an indictment on the presidency, on the state of politics in the United States, and the state of an increasingly divided society. I watched it all and found it quite depressing, with the only positive being I don’t have to live or vote there.

The debate last night between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins was a huge contrast to the Us debate, and an improvement on their first debate last week.

Ardern was more lively and animated, being prepared to move away from scripted stiltedness and ad lib, something she usually does very well. I think she did well enough to please most people who currently support her.

Collins also played to her own strengths, and was prepared to be herself. That will have pleased her supporters, but some Ardern fans were repelled by her intwrupting, talking over and her perceived bullying style.

There are no winners and losers of political debates, there are only winners and losers of elections. I doubt that this debate will have changed many minds, it will more likely have confirmed voters’ impressions of both leaders.

The winner for me was New Zealand democracy (both Collins and Ardern said the time was not right to rename the country Aotearoa). It was a lively and informative debate.

I was particularly pleased that the last ten minutes of the debate highlighted as much disagreement as disagreement between Ardern and Collins, and they even managed a few laughs. This was a huge contrast to another debate yesterday.

While he was off target occasionally a lot of credit has to go to moderator Paddy Gower. I didn’t expect to quote Sean Plunket on the debate, but here goes:

Debates are part of a campaign process, they aren’t deciding battles.

Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom) from Ardern steps up but Collins holds her own in second debate:

The second leaders’ debate of New Zealand’s election may not have been perfect, but it was a distinct improvement on the inaugural match-up last week – and immeasurably better than the American presidential debate which served as a bizarro curtain-raiser of sorts on Wednesday afternoon.

That both Collins and Ardern brought higher energy levels was a tribute to the moderation of Gower, whose hosting of a 2017 debate likewise proved a step up.

Where TVNZ’s John Campbell was somewhat ponderous, the former Newshub political editor offered up a sharper and tighter style.

His repeated use of specific scenarios gave less room for the leaders to revert to their standard talking points, even if it sometimes tilted too far into absurdity – as when Ardern and Collins were both pressed to back “meat-free Mondays” for New Zealand.

But as a result of Gower’s approach, voters got a far clearer contrast between the ideologies and styles of the two leaders than could be said last week.

He also secured some newsworthy snippets, including Ardern seeming to promise a climate emergency declaration and Collins pledging to claw back taxpayer money from businesses that had claimed the wage subsidy, only to lay off workers and declare record profits.

The winner is almost irrelevant, although for the record it seemed close to a draw – certainly each side had enough moments to gee up their supporters.

This debate did seem to inject some life into a fairly listless campaign.

A couple of interesting bits from the debate:

Collins gave ACT leader David Seymour a big shout out, saying he would be a good deputy PM.

Ardern supported James Shaw’s much derided decision to fund a private Green school.

For me a big issue this election is not the leaders but the lack of quality in party lineups, but that is a fairly even problem across the parties.

With several recent polls giving us an idea where party support lay over they past couple of weeks I think the deciding factor will be tactical voting.

While National seems to have stemmed their slide Labour should comfortably either win a majority on their own or with the Greens.

I think quite a few could vote tactically, some to try to bolster the Green vote and leverage to swing the Government left, while there’s signs that others may move their votes from National to Labour to try to reduce or eliminate Green leverage to keep the next Government more in the centre.

Mark Jennings (Newsroom): Gower gets the debate into top gear

It’s unanimous. This was an enjoyable debate, a better debate, and finally, a debate that produced some answers.

Newsroom managed to find six and asked them if they had been swayed to either National or Labour.

All said that the debate had left them more undecided than ever. One said he had been leaning slightly towards National but “Jacinda pulled me back to the middle “

Most said they were thankful the debate was a lot better the “train wreck” of the Trump v Biden contest earlier in the day.

All agreed that commentator Trish Sherson summed things up well when she told Tova O’Brien in the post-debate analysis “I think New Zealand is lucky it’s had had a debate of this quality tonight with leaders of this quality.”

I agree.

Collins versus Ardern – round 2

The second debate between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins will be on Newshub tonight from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

Collins and National seem to have at least stemmed their slide, but are still getting low thirties in public polls at best, and are a long way from challenging Labour.


Ardern is quite different this time, she has brought her A game. And helping her kick off strongly the first questions were on Covid, one of her strengths.

Collins started with a disadvantage, but she didn’t help with her repeated snarky manner. Against Ardern in top gear that just doesn’t come off well.

Greens – wealth tax, top priorities versus bottom lines

This may be little more than semantics given how malleable election promises and committed bottom lines are – Winston Peters in particular has a record of asserting bottom lines during an election campaign that disappear from coalition arrangements.

MP Julie Anne Genter said at a small business panel discussion the a wealth was a “bottom line” for the Greens if they were to join into a second Coalition government with Labour.

But co-leader James Shaw has followed up saying it would only be a top priority, and Greens don’t do bottom lines.

Newstalk ZB – Wealth tax ‘a bottom line’ for a Greens-Labour government: Genter

The Greens election policies include a plan to make Kiwis with a net-worth greater than $1 million, pay 1 per cent of their wealth to the government as a tax.

Those worth more than $2m would pay out 2 per cent of their wealth as tax.

Greens MP Julie Anne Genter today told a Newstalk ZB small business panel discussion the tax policy was a “bottom line” condition that must be met for her party to join into a second Coalition government with Labour.

However, Labour MP Stuart Nash quickly rejected the idea, saying Labour would not be introducing a wealth tax.

“[A wealth tax was] off the table,” he said.

Genter defended the wealth tax, saying it would only affect the wealthiest 6 per cent of Kiwis.

“Any sensible economist knows that we cannot carry on with the status quo. There is a tiny percentage of New Zealanders that would be affected by this tax – they are the top 6 per cent wealthiest New Zealanders,” Genter said.

“It’s not an individual who owns a $2m house and has a $1.5m mortgage.

“Tax reform has to be a bottom line, this county is not going to be better off if we continue to allow the wealthiest people and the wealthiest New Zealanders to accumulate more and more wealth.”

However, Labour’s Nash said Treasurer Grant Robertson had ruled out imposing any wealth tax.

“As the Revenue Minister, I have had a look at a wealth tax and I think it is very, very difficult to implement,” he said.

“It’s on unrealised gains, which make it very difficult for people to pay who are asset rich, cashflow poor.”

Robertson has already emphatically ruled out the Green tax policy – tow weeks ago Grant Robertson categorically rules out adopting Greens’ tax policy if Labour is re-elected

Grant Robertson has categorically ruled out adopting the Greens’ tax policy if Labour is re-elected, but James Shaw says he’s prepared to walk away from forming a Government with them if a wealth tax isn’t adopted. 

“Reforming the tax system and ensuring that people have their basic living costs met is one of the highest priorities that we are taking into this election campaign,” Shaw told Newshub. 

National Party leader Judith Collins says that’s the Trojan horse that will storm through Labour’s “no more new taxes” if elected policy. 

“The Labour Party having released its tax plan has not ruled out doing deals with the Greens on more asset tax or anything else,” Collins said on Thursday. 

Except Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson did when Newshub asked him if he could categorically rule adopting the Greens’ tax plan. 

“Yes. This is Labour’s tax plan that we announced yesterday and I said very clearly yesterday that is what we will implement in Government,” Robertson said. 

His message is don’t even bother bringing it to the negotiating table. The only tax Robertson will add is Labour’s higher tax rate of 39 percent on income over $180,000.

“I can’t be clearer than what I’ve been,” he said. 

But Shaw seems optimistic. 

“There is the small matter of an election to go,” he said. 

And if voters send the Greens back to Parliament, Shaw says they won’t accept a raw deal. 

Newshub asked Shaw if he would walk away from negotiations if the Greens don’t get their tax plan and if he will sit on the cross benches outside Government. 

“It’s always a possibility,” he said. 

Robertson said he heard Shaw say yesterday that it was a top priority and not a bottom line. 

Though it appears he didn’t run his hard line by the boss. 

When Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was asked if she would flex to the Greens, she said, “In the aftermath of the election we deal with what the voters give us.”

That is what you call wriggle room. 

So Labour seems to have a position of a wealth tax of definitely no, maybe.

In reaction to Genter’s assertion it would be ‘a bottom line’ in any coalition negotiations Shaw has pulled Greens back to maybe.

RNZ: Wealth tax not a bottom line for Green Party but they will push for it – Shaw

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party’s bottom lines.

Shaw told Morning Report: “It’s a heat of the moment thing and that happens during these debates” and said the extended election campaign was taking its toll.

“People are getting tired and I think she was just pressed on the point.”

She did not accidentally “tell the truth”, he said.

Earlier this month Shaw and party co-leader Marama Davidson told RNZ they had absolutely no bottom lines.

Shaw put it like this today: “At every election we lay out a series of priorities and say ‘how many MPs do we have and are we in a position to negotiate?’

Shaw says the Greens aren’t making the tax a bottom line because “when we get into negotiations we have got to see what the result of the election is. And it’s as simple as that”.

But they will be pushing for it.

“[Tax] a top priority and we have said that. We want to make sure people have enough to live on. We know that Covid-19 has exposed those pre-existing inequalities in our society. Actually the stimulus is making those things worse because the capital is flowing through wage earners and towards asset owners, so it’s driving up house prices, and we’ve had a record close on the NZX even while the median wage has fallen.

Whether or not it becomes a bottom line depends on how many people vote for the Greens, Shaw says.

“That is ultimately the situation we are in. We want to ensure that the next government is led by Jacinda Ardern again, that the Greens are part of that government and that we are able to ensure that it is as transformational a government as possible…

“We are pushing for [tax], we are pushing to significantly expand the state home building programme… we are pushing for significant action on climate change, for sustainable farmers… and so on.

“We will be putting all those things on the table with Labour after the election and saying ‘What can we do together?’.

Obviously first Greens have to get back into Parliament. If they do it their negotiating position will depend a lot on whether Labour have a majority on their own, in which case they will be able to do what they like, or if they need the Greens to form a government, which will give the Greens a stronger hand in coalition negotiations.

But even then any agreement would have to be approved by the Green Party membership.

So top priorities and bottom lines should be taken with a grain of salt.

The top priority for all parties is to get as many votes as they can, which means saying whatever they think will attract support.

After the election policy horse trading and power position negotiations will override specific policies.

I’ve seen some interesting reactions on social media – first applause for Genter appearing to show some strength in having a bottom line on a wealth tax, and then anger that Shaw had watered the Green position down.

One example was Martyn Bradbury who posted Oh sweet Jesus – why BOTHER with the bloody Greens!

This morning I woke truly refreshed brothers and sisters.

I finally knew who I was going to vote for.

The beautiful Greens.

It had happened at the most unexpected moment.

Yesterday, the mighty Julie Anne Genter told a small business panel discussion that a bottom line for the Greens to go into Government with Labour would be their wealth tax!

It was extraordinary!

FINALLY there was a reason to vote Green!

They had brilliantly, for the first time in 3 years, realised that to play politics, you gotta throw a fucking punch!

………and then this…

Wealth tax not a bottom line for Green Party but they will push for it – Shaw

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party’s bottom lines.

…ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING!!!!

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

THIS IS THE REASON TO VOTE FOR YOU YOU FUCKING CLOWN!!!

WHY ARE YOU NOW WALKING AWAY FROM IT?????

They need to go. Just go now.

These people are fucking muppets.

Bradbury has been a political yoyo lately and this response is more emotive than most but similar sentiments have been expressed elsewhere.

While Ardern seemed to leave the door slightly ajar to Green tax policy the equivocation from Shaw pretty much guarantees that it can’t be a Green bottom line, so it will have to be a top priority, apart from the higher priority of getting back into Parliament of course.

Debate reactions

There seems to be fairly consistent reactions to last nights leaders’ debate between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins.

1 News had done their best to talk the debate up as a much anticipated big event but it fell flat.

Collins did a bit better then expected and a bit better than Ardern but not enough to lift National much if at all from poor polls, 31% in the latest 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll.

Ardern was clearly below her best, she looked tired, and she chose to stick to wordy prepared talking points, and she failed to present her strength, an empathy with ordinary people. Too much political and bureaucratic jargon. But she was ok and didn’t do badly enough to change many if any minds.

John Campbell was poor. He tried to take the stage and speak for the leaders too often. He has been to long doing chat style TV shows where he gets to say what he likes.

Some fairly consistent responses from journalists:

Mark Jennings (Newsroom): The leaders’ debate: An unmemorable watch

The first leaders debate was expected to fire some life into a so far ho hum campaign. But, as Mark Jennings writes the Jacinda, Judith and John show fell flat.

To be fair to Collins, she was the one who gave it a go and scored a few hits.

Ardern’s lack of energy was unusual. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that she was in the same building 12 hours earlier. Ardern had appeared on the breakfast show at 7am which means she was probably up at 5.30. Add in a campaign day and it’s hard to peak for a 90-minute debate that kicks off at 7pm.

The group of journalists watching in the Atrium all felt the debate had been underwhelming.

RNZ’s political editor, Jane Patterson: “I think it was one of the flattest debates I’ve seen. Jacinda had no energy…she is tired.”

The Spinoff editor, Toby Manhire: “Everyone is just knackered, just knackered. I think Collins won but not in a way that will move the dial”

Politik’s Richard Harman: “I thought this debate might produce a focus but there was nothing there. People expect Jacinda to be so good all the time – she can do better than she did tonight.”

Steve Braunias, writing for The Guardian: “I thought Collins did well but she is a funny old bird.”

Sam Sacdeva (Newsroom): Collins edges Ardern, but Labour’s formidable lead remains

There were no knockout blows in the first leaders’ debate of the 2020 election, and while Judith Collins may have just had the better of Jacinda Ardern, Labour’s continuing strength in the polls gives the Prime Minister some breathing space.

Neither Campbell, Ardern nor Collins brought their A-game, understandably so given the general sense of fatigue that has shrouded this odd campaign.

The National leader probably edged the encounter, in part thanks to the lower bar that attaches to being the underdog and in part to a spikiness that contrasted favourably with the passivity on show from the Prime Minister.

But it is hard to see many, if any, votes moving between the two major parties as a result of the muddled proceedings – and the minor parties may yet have some hope of peeling some support away in the coming weeks.

The National leader spent more and more time on the front foot, cutting into Ardern’s answers and audibly sharing her displeasure when she felt the Prime Minister had dodged a question or given a poor response.

That did not mean she was perfect, far from it. Collins’ answers to some questions were vague in the extreme – she said National would create jobs by putting a greater emphasis on the tech sector, but pressed by Campbell on how exactly that would occur, then claimed the jobs were already there.

But overall, she offered up a level of aggression commensurate with her party’s position in the polls without tipping over into needless hostility.

In contrast, Ardern seemed strangely defensive, even accounting for her role as the incumbent.

Ardern has largely delegated the rough and tumble of politics on the campaign trail to senior ministers like Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins and Megan Woods who are more than willing to pick up the cudgel.

But they cannot tag in for her on the debate stage, and while she may have calculated she was better off not allowing Collins to drag her into a bare-knuckle brawl, she seemed disengaged as a result.

When Ardern did press the case for Labour’s re-election, it felt somewhat abstract.

Luke Malpass (Stuff): Leaders’ election debate verdict: Jacinda Ardern lost, but Judith Collins didn’t win it

Jacinda Ardern lost the first leaders’ debate, but Judith Collins didn’t win it.

Collins proved her worth to National tonight: it is unlikely she lost any votes.

Ardern, for her part, a now hardened political professional, seemed determined to avoid creating a viral Internet meme out of the night. If that were the intent, she achieved it.

Collins came out with nothing to lose: swinging, heckling, interrupting and taking the fight to the Labour leader. In response, Ardern largely stuck to her talking points, emoted and generally reflected Labour’s risk-averse campaign.

The tactic from Collins seems to try to get under Ardern’s skin, while Ardern seemed to be trying to be relentlessly optimistic and nice – presumably to draw a contrast between the two. She consistently hewed back to Labour talking points.

Both leaders fell back to entrenched positions and didn’t answer a lot of questions.

This is more of a risk for Ardern, whose trademark is authenticity. She appeared both flat and unusually unenthusiastic. 

The Spinoff – Leaders’ debate #1, election 2020: the verdicts

Toby Manhire: Everyone is knackered

Given that most of the country, most of the Covid-battered world, is basically just knackered, is it any surprise that tonight’s opening debate felt a bit knackered, too?

Things never quite fired up. So the when Campbell, who did a good job at keeping things rolling, at one point observed, “You sound like you’re both on auto-pilot,” he was mostly right, except that would have required leaving the ground.

That sums up the whole election campaign to date.

Trish Sherson: Collins was pitch perfect

Morgan Godfery: Ardern is impossible to beat

It’s not worth quoting either of them.

Ben Thomas: Ardern was strangely hesitant

Ardern was strangely hesitant. National leader Judith Collins started off slowly, with the fixed smile she’s worn for much of the campaign. But she soon warmed to the task, and seemed to effectively niggle and provoke Ardern with more of her traditional toughness.

Collins won, as underdogs often do in the first debate of a campaign, but faces a long road ahead.

Justin Giovannetti: Who’d have been swayed?

Labour’s Jacinda Ardern found herself often on the defensive, forced to explain why her party hadn’t lived up to the promises it made three years ago. Her answers were often technocratic and lacked warmth. Someone who has been called one of world’s best communicators struggled to explain her vision.

National’s Judith Collins was the better debater and certainly the better interrupter. Going in tonight her party has been sliding in the polls. Voters who have dismissed Collins were introduced to someone who spoke plainly and clearly.

Your take on the debate might come from where you watched it. If you were in the comfort of a warm home you own and worried about losing your job, Collins may have spoken to you. If you were in a rental apartment you can barely afford, losing a battle with mould, she probably left you seething.

Madeleine Chapman: Mālō, Judith

Debates are where many, many words are said and only the zingers are remembered. Unfortunately tonight’s debate was, quite frankly, quite boring. The only line from Ardern that stuck with me was “John, if I may” and “if I may, John”.

And from Collins, “I’ll tell you what, John” and “John, I’ll tell you what”. In a huge loss for anyone under the age of old, both leaders argued about who could commit the hardest to not taxing property. In my mind, we all lost tonight. 

I don’t think we lost anything. We just didn’t win anything, nor did we gain much insight into Labour and National policies.

This was just the first of four leaders debates. Can we be bothered watching any more?

Ardern v Collins debate

The first leaders’ debate of the election is tonight on 1 News at 7.00 pm until 8:30 pm.

This puts Jacinda Ardern head to head against Judith Collins, Labour versus National.

We will have to wait and see what impact this will have on the election.

Ardern now admits campaign selfie was ‘a mistake’

Jacinda Ardern had been enjoying her ability to attract enthusiastic supporters while campaigning, but she was held to account for this over the weekend after this photo was published:

The offending selfie.

Stuff: David Seymour criticises Jacinda Ardern’s lack of social distancing in selfie while on the campaign trail

ACT leader David Seymour criticised Ardern on Saturday, and said New Zealanders would be asking whether she was part of the team of five million after she “clearly flouted the rules she has asked us to live by”.

In a statement, Seymour said hospitality businesses were going broke at alert level 2 because of single server and social distancing rules.

“Meanwhile, the person responsible for the rules is breaking them. Small business owners will be incredibly angry.”

I’ve heard from people who generally support Ardern being very disappointed.

Initially Ardern left it to a spokesperson to deal with it.

In response to Seymour’s criticism, a spokesperson for Ardern said the PM asks members of the public to keep appropriate distancing when interacting and getting photos.

“There are a number of handshakes and hugs she unfortunately has to decline and best endeavours are made to keep separated when people ask for photos, but often members of the public will come very close to the prime minister which is difficult to control.”

That’s a poor response. Ardern was actively encouraging the public getting very close, and it should have been easy for her to control.

This came up gain at yesterday’s Covid media conference, and Ardern did respond herself this time.

Stuff: Jacinda Ardern admits close-quarters selfie was a ‘mistake’

Asked about the photo on Monday, Ardern said she acknowledged an error.

“Look, I just need to acknowledge I should have moved further forward and asked them to step away from each other,” she told reporters.

“I work really hard not to shake people’s hands, I sanitise, I wear my mask in Auckland, and I work hard to try and keep my social distance. In that particular photo I did make a mistake. I should have stepped further forward, I should have asked them to step apart from each other”.

“I totally acknowledge that.”

She hasn’t ‘totally acknowledged’ the mistake. She tried to mitigate it by saying how much she did to keep her social distance, but I this isn’t the only time she has worked crowds of fans while campaigning. It’s just the first time media have made a thing of it.

Election 2020: David Seymour criticises Jacinda Ardern's lack of social  distancing in selfie while on the campaign trail | Stuff.co.nz

Ardern at fault for campaign selfie gaffe | 7NEWS.com.au

Ardern at fault for campaign selfie gaffe | 7NEWS.com.au
Kate Hawkesby: Why isn't the PM social distancing? - NZ Herald
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12366457

National’s tax cut policy

Just when it looked like Labour were comfortably PR managing their way to a comfortable election victory, playing ultra-safe with a minimal policy approach, and National looked to be going through the motions heading for a big defeat, the campaign has been shaken up a bit with a promise of tax cuts for everyone.

National were obviously waiting for the PREFU release (Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update – economy “better than predicted”) on Thursday, announcing their Economic & Fiscal Plan yesterday, with most attention given to short term tax cuts aimed at stimulating the economy.

This seemed to rattle Labour, with both Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson reacting.

Ardern said tax cuts were “irresponsible”:

“What they have announced today is unaffordable and is raiding from a fund that has to be available to make sure that we as a nation can keep responding to the challenges of Covid, not deliver unaffordable tax cuts.

This is a bit rich. Labour have already spent something like $50 billion propping up the economy, and have a $14b fund set aside to dish out as they see fit.

“Now is just not the time for tax cuts and I genuinely believe New Zealanders will look at the environment right now and agree with that.

“What we need now is really careful economic management, we need certainty and we need a plan and that’s what we’ll deliver.”

There’s nothing certain about our short and medium term economic future.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson:

“It beggars belief that in the middle of a pandemic the National Party is planning to gut the money set aside to protect New Zealanders in case of another major outbreak of Covid-19,” he said in a statement after the announcement.

“We carefully put aside $14 billion to look after New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing and now National wants to put that at risk. This policy reeks of desperation as National races to borrow money to pay for a $4000 temporary tax cut for Judith Collins.”

The responses from Ardern and Robertson reek of rattledness.

National’s announcement.


National will cut taxes for middle New Zealand

National’s massive tax stimulus package will put more than $3000 extra into the pockets of hard-working Kiwis on middle incomes, National Party Leader Judith Collins says.

You can read a copy of National’s Economic & Fiscal Plan here.

Ms Collins has announced the next National Government will let Kiwis keep more of what they earn by lifting the bottom tax threshold from $14,000 to $20,000, the middle threshold from $48,000 to $64,000 and the top threshold from $70,000 to $90,000.

These changes will be in place from December 1, 2020 until March 31, 2022. The total cost of this over the 16-month period is estimated to be $4.7 billion.

“Today we are facing the biggest economic downturn the world has seen since in living memory. But with the right leadership and economic plan we can grow our economy and keep Kiwis in jobs,” Ms Collins says.

“To keep our economy ticking, New Zealanders need money to spend. National will deliver temporary tax relief that puts more than $3000 – or nearly $50 a week – into the back pockets of average earners over the next 16 months.

“This will give Kiwis the confidence to go out and spend, which will be crucial for our retail, tourism and hospitality businesses to survive this economic crisis.

“New Zealand is facing a much longer and more painful economic shock than earlier forecast. We need a serious plan for economic growth to get us back on track.”

National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith pointed to higher taxes as Labour’s only plan to get New Zealand out of this economic hole.

“No country has ever taxed its way out of a recession – and this is a big one we’re in now.”

As well as tax relief for households, National will double the depreciation rate for businesses that invest in new Plant, Equipment and Machinery over the next twelve months. This will bring forward the amount a business can claim in depreciation for new investments, which will stimulate investment by increasing the return on capital.

Doubling the depreciation rate is expected to cost $430 million a year for five years, while increasing tax revenues in out years.

“Our stimulus package has been fully-funded and costed, and is included in our independently reviewed Economic and Fiscal Plan released today,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“National’s plan carefully balances the need to drive economic stimulus, increase investment in core public services and restore government debt back to prudent levels.

“Labour, on the other hand, has announced it will increase taxes during a recession. The contrasting approaches to the economy at this election could not be clearer.

“Judith Collins and her strong National team will bring the leadership, experience and vision needed to get our country back on track.”

You can read a copy of National’s Economic & Fiscal Plan here.

You can view a copy of National’s Personal Tax Relief Policy here.

You can view a copy of National’s Double Depreciation Rate Policy here.


See RNZ: National promises $4.7bn in tax cuts in economic and tax policy

Obviously this policy would benefit me, by a few thousand dollars. I’m not sure it’s the best approach over the next year or two, but at least it’s reasonably even, it means all tax payers would pay less tax for 16 months (that makes for a messy part taxyear), and every one of us could decide what to do with the extra take home pay.

It does seems a better approach to Labour ‘picking winners’ and ‘corporate welfare’ of dishing out millions of dollars to selected businesses, which puts competing businesses at a disadvantage. I guess they plan to continue to do that with their $14 fund they don’t want given to workers.

Funny to see Labour favouring some corporates while National taking less from workers, that shows how muddled politics is these days.

This announcement is unlikely to swing the election (I’m still very undecided), but going by Labour’s responses it has them a bit worried. At least it livens up a lacklustre campaign.

Dunedin hospital rebuild delayed further, another Labour commitment failure

Before the last election Labour criticised the then National Government for delays in building a new hospital, and committed to starting the rebuild of in their first term. But the Labour Government has kept pushing out a decision and the rebuild to further than National had indicated, and have just announced they won’t even make a final decision until next year.

Before the 2017 election Labour stated: Rebuilding Dunedin Hospital

All New Zealanders should be able to get the healthcare they need, when they need it. Dunedin Hospital serves 300,000 people in the city and the surrounding regions, but it is no longer fit for delivering modern healthcare to a population with increasing health needs.

For years, Dunedin Hospital has needed to be rebuilt.

The current Government has finally committed to making a decision on the rebuild but Cabinet won’t consider the details until sometime next year and it plans for the new hospital to be up to 10 years away.

Up to ten years away then was up to 2027.

With Labour’s approach, Dunedin will have a new hospital as soon as possible, and the taxpayer will get the best value for money. Avoiding further delay will minimise costs and mean patients get better care more quickly.

Labour will: commit to beginning construction of the new Dunedin Hospital within our first term

This project is expected to cost $1.4 billion, and will deliver the most modern hospital in New Zealand, ready to serve Dunedin and the Lower South Island for decades to come.

But the Labour Government hasn’t avoided further delays. While land has been purchased and buildings are being demolished, there is no sign of a start on the outpatients block let alone the new hospital.

This week: Government confirms new Dunedin Hospital design

The Government has agreed on a preferred design for the new Dunedin Hospital featuring two separate buildings, and has provided funding for the next stages of work.

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins says Cabinet has approved in principle the detailed business case for the new hospital, giving people in the Southern region certainty and confidence in the design and ongoing progress.

But there is no certainty, still.

“Cabinet agreed the detailed business case in principle as it’s important the project maintains momentum and demolition and design milestones are reached. We’ve released $127 million to progress design, demolition, piling, project management and early contractor engagement.

“It’s expected the total budget for the project will now exceed $1.4 billion. This will be confirmed once concept design is finished and costings can be finalised. The final details of the business case are expected go to Cabinet for approval by February 2021.

While it looks probably that Labour will be back in Government next year and hopefully the Cabinet will approve proceeding with the rebuild they promised a start in their first term, so have failed to deliver.

Outpatients (at almost 15,000 sqm) is due to be complete by early 2025, with Inpatients (at around 73,500 sqm) due to be finished in the first quarter of 2028.

‘Inpatients’ is code for ‘hospital’. The small outpatients block will be built before the actual hospital is started, possibly in 2025 but that’s far from certain.

And the planned completion date is after what the previous Government had projected. If National had stayed on in Government there’s no guarantee they would have delivered either, but Labour has been no better.

Implementation Business Cases for each building – Outpatients in mid-2021 and Inpatients by the end of 2021, will be considered by joint Ministers of Health and Finance, prior to confirming the main contractor for each building.

Having committed to commencing a rebuild “in our first term” (which ends next month) they now say they will only consider the Implementation Business Case for the hospital building “by the end of 2021”.

The Labour Government is throwing billions of dollars at infrastructure and ‘shovel ready’ projects all over the country, but Dunedin, and Otago and Southland, are a long way from getting a replacement regional hospital for what three years ago Labour described as “no longer fit for delivering modern healthcare“.

This re-emphasises the reality that election campaign pledges, promises and commitments (from any party) are often deliberate delusions aimed at gullible voters.

RNZ three years ago: Ardern raises stakes over Dunedin hospital

Ms Ardern was confident her party could build the hospital faster than the National Party’s seven to 10 year estimation.

“The hospital at present is dangerous and unsafe for staff and patients. Most of the existing buildings would not survive a severe earthquake.

“Things are so bad that at the moment operations have to be delayed because of the leaks when it rains. Dunedin Hospital is no longer fit for purpose,” she said.

Serious problems with the current buildings are ongoing.

Last month: Progress on ICU air conditioning

New air-conditioning machinery will be installed in a bid to get Dunedin Hospital’s multimillion-dollar new intensive care department fully functional.

Ventilation issues delayed the opening of stage one of the project for four months in 2018-19; the second stage was meant to open at the start of this year, but its 10 critical care beds remain unused.

The project has been bedevilled by the hospital building’s old air-conditioning machinery, which has proven inadequate to meet the demands of a modern critical care unit.

A new critical care unit can’t be used because of problems with the building.

The new ICU was commissioned by the SDHB to tide it over until the new Dunedin Hospital is built.

It replaces a dark, cramped ward that has poor facilities for patients, their families and staff with bright, spacious rooms and modern equipment, an upgrade staff have been eagerly awaiting.

They could be waiting another ten years.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to the Otago Daily Times:

…Ms Ardern said Labour remained ‘‘absolutely’’ committed to the rebuild of Dunedin Hospital, and also wanted to continue investment on upgrading Otago and Southland school buildings.

‘‘I remember very early on visiting Dunedin Hospital and it was just so clear what was needed there,’’ she said.

But it’s still far from clear what Labour’s ‘absolute’ commitment to the rebuild of the Dunedin Hospital amounts to. Niceness doesn’t provide adequate modern hospitals, nor does it save lives.