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A policy-heavy day on the campaign

It’s Wednesday, September 6 and welcome to The Spinoff’s election live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund.

Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

The agenda

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A policy-heavy day on the campaign

It’s Wednesday, September 6 and welcome to The Spinoff’s election live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund.

Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

The agenda

Sep 6 2023

Today’s top stories from the campaign trail (and beyond)

Here’s a handy rundown of some of today’s top stories.

I’m clocking off for now (unless more news breaks, in which case see you soon). This evening, PM Chris Hipkins will give the annual Bloomberg address and we’ll have some reporting from Toby Manhire on that later today.

How Labour’s Georgie Dansey dislocated her shoulder while door knocking

Labour’s Georgie Dansey (Photo: Facebook)

In the run up to Election 2023, we asked a smattering of MPs and candidates across the political spectrum for a personal story about the age-old campaign technique of door knocking. 

First up it’s Labour’s Hamilton East candidate Georgie Dansey with a dispatch from last year’s by-election, which she described to me as the ‘BEST’ story ever.

Last year during the by-election, I dislocated my shoulder while knocking on someone’s door.

Here’s what happened: I have a long standing shoulder injury, in which my shoulder dislocated at the most awkward of times e.g catching my child coming off a slide, picking an orange from a tree, rolling over in bed. I have learnt to manage my injury but sometimes I get taken by surprise, my shoulder ends up in an awkward position, and pop, out it goes. I can get it in myself, but usually I have to faint first.

On this particular day, I was door knocking with a volunteer (Shirley). I knocked on a door with my right hand (the dreaded dislocating arm). The person didn’t answer so I reached up to put one of my cards reading “sorry I missed you” in the side of the door so they knew I had visited. Just as I was doing that the occupant opened the door, I got such a fright my arm flew back and out popped my shoulder.

With a shoulder dislocation comes excruciating pain, I managed to ask Shirley to speak to the person and I went and sat in the driveway in an effort not to faint from the pain and shock. I’m not sure how successful the door knock was, but I did manage to get my shoulder back into place in a few minutes (without fainting) and I hope the occupant voted Labour! In fact I should go back and ask.

I now awkwardly always knock with my left hand.

Labour's Georgie Dansey out with her hoardings
Labour’s Georgie Dansey (Photo: Facebook)

National wants 10,000 EV chargers by 2030

Z Energy has partnered with electric vehicle charging company Charge.net.co.nz to install six units at Z stations in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (Image: Getty Images).

National’s unveiled a plan to “supercharge” the infrastructure needed for people to switch from petrol to electric vehicles.

It includes a promise to invest $257 million over four years to up the number of EV chargers from around 1,200 to 10,000 within the next seven years.

But it will also see the end of Labour’s clean car discount and the cost imposed on those buying high emissions vehicles, which National has labelled a “ute tax”.

“National does not believe New Zealanders who can afford a brand-new electric car need a subsidy from taxpayers to buy it,” said Christopher Luxon, who is today in Christchurch. “The move to EVs will happen without subsidies as those who can afford new cars choose to reduce their personal carbon footprints and their dependence on fossil fuels. We will therefore end the clean car discount scheme.”

Luxon said his party’s priority was rolling out public charging infrastructure, basing it on the co-investment model used during the introduction of fibre broadband. “National will unleash the transition to an electric transport system by investing in EV infrastructure and cutting red tape to deliver more chargers, in more places, more quickly and more cheaply,” he said.

Chris Hipkins tickles a robot

Chris Hipkins and a potential voter (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

It really is the election campaign. While the National Party leader was in the South Island scooping ice cream, the Labour leader was up in Auckland tickling robots and being shown innovations in agriculture technology.

The visit to Auckland University coincided with the launch of a new economic policy from Chris Hipkins. It was less a specific promise and more a series of pledges, though unlike National’s election campaign pledge card, there was a whole booklet of them.

It included growing an “export-led economy with a strong global reputation” and harnessing “New Zealand’s digital creativity and expertise”.

But the highlight of the announcement was undoubtedly Hipkins coming face-to-face with a dancing, laughing robot. While the prime minister obliged the robot’s request to be tickled, he refused to participate in a dance routine (complete with air guitar) that the robot performed. The robot was “fun”, Hipkins later said, but maintained that it would have outshone him on the dance front.

Chris Hipkins and a robot at Auckland Uni
Chris Hipkins and a potential voter (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Earlier, Hipkins was shown robot technology that could be used in the agriculture sector, such as an automated device for harvesting apples and blueberries. Perhaps because of just how technical the demonstration was, Hipkins largely just nodded or gave short affirmations rather than asking many specific questions of what the technology could be used for.

Chris Luxon gets the scoop at Rollickin Gelato

Christopher Luxon and some ice cream on the campaign trail. (Photo: Shanti Mathias)

Shanti Mathias reports from Christchurch:

National’s Christopher Luxon visited the Christchurch institution that is Rollickin Gelato this morning for a photo opportunity as a prelude to a policy announcement later today. He participated in an ice cream scooping contest with resident scooper Anton, managing to produce eight berry flavoured ice cream cones in a minute, but losing to Anton’s 11 dulce de leche cones.

After the contest, Luxon learned how the gelato is made, getting to mix together a blueberry deluxe flavour straight from the gelato machine – a mixture of frozen cream, blueberry sauce and chunks of shortbread. “That was great fun,” he asserted as he carried the creation to the freezer, wearing gloves and an arguably unnecessary hairnet. He declared that the flavour was a “taste sensation” and congratulated the store for building a successful business in the southern city.

Christopher Luxon proudly displays his ice cream
Christopher Luxon and some ice cream (Photo: Shanti Mathias)

Christchurch Central candidate Dale Stephens lurked behind Luxon and the pack of media, watching the ice cream as it was made. “I’ll be voting lots for the Chris Luxon ice cream,” he said, but no-one seemed to be listening. Luxon had seemingly learned from James Shaw’s gaping chompers during ice cream consumption in 2020, opting for a cup rather than a cone and taking a tidy nibble from a spoon. He noted wisely that consuming ice cream is difficult when surrounded by cameras.

Rollickin Gelato had an ice cream poll in 2020, with flavours for each of the parties in parliament like “David S’more” and “Cookie Crusher Collins, and the tradition is continuing this year. Chris Luxon’s blueberry flavour will be joined by frozen dairy representatives of the other parties on Friday. If a political leader visits the store to try their flavour, they give away an hour of free scoops, boosting their publicity and the politician’s chances in the dessert polls.

Luxon behind the counter at Rollickin
Luxon behind the counter at Rollickin (Photo: Shanti Mathias)

Education, health sector first targets of Act’s new red tape plan

David Seymour doesn’t miss opportunities to compare New Zealand with the so-called “third world”

The Act Party has revealed more details of its proposal to implement a new Ministry of Regulation, saying the new department would first target the early childhood and health sectors.

Led by a new minister of regulation, that would likely be David Seymour in a National-Act government, the new ministry would also sweep over the primary industries and financial services as a first priority.

Seymour said New Zealand was “plagued by red tape” and the Act Party wanted to make sure the next government could cut through it.

“The minister and ministry would ensure new and existing regulations meet tough new standards and would put red tape on the chopping block,” said Seymour.

“Early childhood education faces a host of regulations aimed at protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and improving the quality of education. However, not all regulations are made equally, and over-regulation is hurting the sector…

“New Zealand’s health system is under serious pressure due to a lack of workforce. Lifting constraints on the supply of workers and the activities they can undertake can ensure more Kiwis will have access to timely care.”

In a policy document released today, the Act Party said a regulation review would take six months to “dig into all regulations” in a chosen sector. Following this, the minister in charge of the targeted sector would have three months to instigate cuts.

Hipkins announces economic growth plan

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has released the Labour Party’s economic growth plan while visiting an Auckland factor developing robotic arms.

The highlight is a $100 million investment from the Venture Capital Fund directed towards agritech.

“Our ambition is to grow the agritech sector to $8 billion by 2030. To achieve that goal Labour will inject $100 million into the Venture Capital Fund to support this objective,” Hipkins said.

“This fund will invest in agritech businesses, including through their joint investment fund with Finistere Ventures developed through the Agritech ITP.”

Hipkins also committed to leading Prime Ministerial delegation to India within the first 100 days of the new term.

“Free trade agreements now cover almost three quarters of New Zealand’s exports. A key focus next term will be to expand those opportunities further.”

The plan sets out five economic priorities for Labour in the next term:

  1. Grow an export-led economy with a strong global reputation
  2. Turn New Zealand into a Centre of Excellence for sustainable agriculture and agricultural technology
  3. Be a global leader in renewable energy
  4. Harness New Zealand’s digital creativity and expertise
  5. Boost our premium tourism offering

Temu set to overtake shopping giant Amazon

You’ve probably seen advertising for Temu. But what does the company do?

An article on The Conversation this morning describes how Chinese shopping app Temu, one of the most downloaded apps in the world, has rapidly become outrageously successful, using a gamified shopping experience, offering low cost products and spending millions of dollars on advertising.

The company says it cuts out the middleman, providing packages directly from manufacturers that are largely in China. It is owned by the enormous Chinese shopping website Pinduoduo and has a similar model to AliExpress or Shein which also sell consumer products direct from manufacturers.

Temu’s mega advertising spend meant that many New Zealanders started using the company when it launched here in March. New Zealand Post says that more than 50% of New Zealanders now shop online, especially as cheaply made items from overseas have become much more accessible.

For more on Temu, read this explainer from earlier in the year.

a blue trinagle with a Temu logo with orange icons of a high heel, dress, purse and rocking horse
You’ve probably seen advertising for Temu. But what does the company do?

Act loses another candidate

ACT leader David Seymour celebrates with his party on election night in Auckland. Photo: Greg Bowker/Getty Images

A fourth Act candidate has quit the party ahead of the upcoming election, with Newsroom reporting Scott Boness was quietly removed from the Auckland Central ballot in August.

While there were more obvious reasons for the prior three resignations – including one who compared vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany – an Act spokesperson said Boness simply had a change of heart about running for parliament.

“Sometimes people put themselves forward and then they change their minds,” the spokesperson said.

The party’s previously announced list was a “work in progress”, they said, and eight people have been added to it since along with the four who have dropped off.

25-year-old Felix Poole, who featured in The Spinoff’s Youth Wings series in 2020, replaced Boness in Auckland Central.

The day ahead

It’s day three of the election campaign proper – and our political leaders will be out and about again today. Here’s a quick look at what we’ve got coming up.

  • It’s an Auckland day for the leader of the Labour Party Chris Hipkins. He’ll visit Auckland University for a policy announcement early this afternoon, before delivering the annual Bloomberg address. Later, he will address a new civil society alliance.
  • National’s Christopher Luxon is in Christchurch for a policy announcement and will also visit another sports venue – Hagley Oval – after his trip to the Basin Reserve yesterday. Earlier today, in what is something of a traditional political photo op, he’ll visit Rollickin Gelato.
  • Another policy announcement is due from Act as well. David Seymour will unveil the party’s regulation policy at about lunchtime in Auckland.

The Bulletin: Sole psychiatrist not so alone after all

As The Post’s Rachel Thomas and Kexin Li report this morning, Marie Bismark thought she’d be all alone in her strike action yesterday. Bismark is the sole psychiatrist in her community in Kāpiti, with a caseload of 300 patients. The area should have three psychiatrists and Bismark says “I worry every day that someone is going to die because we don’t have a psychiatrist here.” As her senior doctor colleagues gathered en masse outside hospitals yesterday, Bismark cut a lonely figure, holding a sign that read “All by myself” until a member of the public joined her. “I just wanted to support her, because I knew that she would be here alone,” they said. “I’m a patient.”

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 38,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture.

Relationship between National and Waikato Uni ‘constructive’, says Luxon

Christopher Luxon speaks at the National conference at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington. Photo: Hagen Hopkins / Getty

National’s leader is comfortable with the “constructive” relationship between Waikato University’s boss and his health spokesperson Shane Reti.

It was reported yesterday that vice chancellor Neil Quigley was intimately involved in the National party’s policy of establishing a medical school at the university. In one email obtained by RNZ, Quigley wrote to Reti saying: “The first student intake would be 2027 — a present to you to start your second term in government!”

But Christopher Luxon told RNZ this morning he was OK with how his party’s policy was devised – and recommitted to having the new medical school open in four years time.

“We are 1,700 doctors short in this country, we can keep talking about it like we have over the last six years or we can do something about it” Luxon said. “We are not mucking around, we want action.”

The decision to choose Waikato for the new medical school was based around the need to encourage more doctors in rural areas, said Luxon. “The country needs action and it needs a turnaround,” he said.

That particular phrase – that New Zealand needs a “turnaround” – is becoming a favourite of Luxon. He said similarly during a business speech at Te Papa yesterday to it, as Newsroom’s Marc Daalder reported. “[I’ve] done a lot of turnaround jobs in my life,” Luxon told the audience. “We’re not solving the problems and the challenges that we’ve got. And we certainly are not maximising the opportunities that are in front of us.”