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Nov 6 2022

Labour at lowest support since Ardern became PM – Newshub poll

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Labour has dropped to its lowest polling numbers since Jacinda Ardern became prime minister in the latest Newshub/Reid Research political poll.

At 32.3%, Labour has recorded a 5.9 point drop since the last Newshub poll in May – when the party dropped 6.1 points, down to 38.2%.

It’s not all good news for National, though. Today’s numbers are all but unchanged from the party’s May polling – 40.7% today, and 40.5% in May.

Act is the big winner, rising from 6.4% in May to 10% today.

Still, the numbers give National in a commanding lead a year out from the election, and put Christopher Luxon in pole position to become prime minister.

National names candidate for Hamilton West byelection

Tama Potaka, minister for conservation, will be part of the decision making for some applications. Photo: supplied

National’s candidate in the Hamilton West byelection will be Tama Potaka, following a vote of local party members this afternoon. The chief executive of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, one of the Hauraki Collective of iwi, Potaka said in a statement: “Hamilton West has a unique chance to send a message to the Labour Government before next year’s General Election – New Zealanders need more than good intentions and band-aid solutions. They want and deserve direction, clear action and delivery.”

Tama Potaka, National candidate for Hamilton West. Photo: supplied

Potaka won in a field of three that was notable, given National’s push for diversity among its candidate pool, for the absence of white men. Tim Macindoe, the former National whip who had previously indicated his enthusiasm to reclaim the seat he lost in the red wave of 2020, said he had decided not to enter the selection race.

The announcement confirms the field for the December 10 byelection, which was triggered when Gaurav Sharma, who won with a 6,000-vote majority in the 2020 election as a Labour candidate, was booted from caucus and quit parliament following a string of accusations about his treatment within parliament and the party.

Joining Potaka and Sharma on the ballot are Georgie Dansey for Labour, sitting list MP James McDowall for Act, and Naomi Pocock for the Opportunities. The Green Party and Act have both decided not to stand candidates.

Labour policy is band aid economics with a side of Panadol, say opposition parties

National leader Christopher Luxon and Act leader David Seymour (Photos: Getty Images)

Introducing Jacinda Ardern’s speech at the Labour conference this afternoon, Grant Robertson hailed his leader’s attention to detail during the Covid response, calling her “Dr Ardern, medicine woman”. Act leader David Seymour latched on to the line in his denunciation of the policy unveiled by Ardern, which extends childcare subsidy to more people, calling the measure to extend the subsidy to cover 10,000 more children the equivalent of “a Panadol when the patient is on life support”.

In a statement, Seymour said: “If Ardern really wanted to help with childcare, she’d let more teachers into the country. Instead, by giving subsidies to a few, they’ll push up prices for everyone else. Where were her solutions for the wider cost of living crisis? Where were her solutions for rising crime?”

National leader Christopher Luxon and Act leader David Seymour (Photos: Getty Images)

Christopher Luxon was on a similar tip when he spoke to media, criticising “band aid economics”. The policy was “fine as it is, but it just makes a terrible situation slightly better” and failed to address the core drivers of inflation, said the National Party leader. If Labour was serious about solutions that addressed inflation-driven bracket shift, they should look to National’s policy on tax, he said.

The Green Party welcomed the policy but called for further action. “As many families struggle to afford the basics, now would also be the perfect time for the government to extend 20 hours of early childhood education to two year olds,” said co-leader Marama Davidson.

Ardern announces boost in access to childcare subsidy in conference speech

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Jacinda Ardern has announced a change in the threshold for childcare subsidy and an increase in the Working for Families tax credit in her keynote speech at the Labour Party conference.

Presented as a package to address the cost of living crisis, the threshold shift will see eligibility for subsidised childcare assistance extended to 54% of families, taking in an extra 10,000 children. Ardern offered as an example a family with two parents both working 40 hours a week on $26 an hour and with two children under the age of five; they would now qualify for the scheme, receiving $252 a week, she said.

The family tax credit will increase by $9 a week for the oldest child to $136 a week, and $7 for younger sprogs. The increase, which kicks in from April will also see Best Start go up by $4 to $69 a week.

The childcare subsidy is expected to cost $189 million over four years, while the increase in family tax credit is estimated at around $26 million a year, pending the Treasury’s half-year fiscal update next month. “This kind of targeted support not only reaches those who need it most, it is support we can afford that unlike across the board tax cuts, won’t have a significant impact on inflation and make the problem worse,” said Ardern.

Speaking to conference delegates, Ardern assailed National for freezing childcare subsidies in 2010. “We’re targeting one of the most significant costs for working families by making childcare and before and after school care more affordable to a greater number of low and middle-income families.”

Casting ahead to the 2023 election, Ardern told the conference: “The question next year will be: who is best to help New Zealand navigate these tough times. Who can provide the security and certainty New Zealanders need to get through, with a plan, with confidence and with optimism. The answer is Labour. Because we have been here before. Because we have the track record and the experience. Because we can manage a crisis and make progress. Because we are not done yet.”

Jacinda Ardern in her keynote address at the Labour Party conference in 2022. Photo: Toby Manhire