Poll brings more bad news for Labour

It’s Thursday, September 7 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s election live updates.

I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and you can reach me on

The agenda


Poll brings more bad news for Labour

It’s Thursday, September 7 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s election live updates.

I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and you can reach me on

The agenda

Sep 7 2023

Opposition unconvinced by Labour’s law and order plan


The National and Act parties have blasted Labour over its proposed plan to tackle gangs, though largely not because of what the policy actually details.

Chris Hipkins today announced that, if reelected, he’d see frontline police numbers boosted by 300. There was also a pledge to target gang leaders and toughen penalties for stalking and harassment.

But the opposition thinks Labour’s track record on law and order means it can’t be trusted to implement the new policy.

“Labour’s soft-on-crime approach has put New Zealanders at risk, with a 41% increase in victimisations and high retail crime that not only takes a toll on shop workers and business owners, but has a significant economic cost too,” said National’s Mark Mitchell in a statement.

Act Party leader David Seymour was equally critical, telling reporters in Auckland that Labour wasn’t capable of delivering on its promise.

But Seymour also took aim at National during his press conference in front of Act’s new campaign bus.

“As you see the National Party over the past week move closer and closer towards Labour policies, whether it is fees-free, free school lunches, building EV charging stations…the need for a party like Act becomes more and more important,” he said.

Asked about comments by Chris Hipkins today, in which he referred to an “Act-National” government instead of saying “National-Act”, Seymour said it was good that the Labour leader knew how to put something in alphabetical order and took a dig at Labour’s education track record.

He wouldn’t go so far as to suggest Labour was fear-mongering around Act, but added: “The influence Act would have in a government with National is to get rid of government waste and excessive red tape and regulation, to make sure that the streets are safe and chart a path as a country that is a modern, multi-ethnic, liberal democratic state… If anyone is afraid of that, then they must have some strange aspirations.”

All aboard ‘big pinky’: Act unveils candidate-emblazoned bus

David Seymour, Act candidates and big pinky (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Last election the Act Party took to the streets in what it described as a bus, but was in reality a van. This time around, it’s very much a bus (or is it, as one candidate told me, a “coach”?).

Leader David Seymour and a handful of candidates jumped onboard “big pinky” today in Auckland as the party heads out on its Road to Real Change tour in the lead up to October 14.

David Seymour and other Act candidates in front of a big pink bus
David Seymour, Act candidates and big pinky (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

There are 20 candidates emblazoned on the side of the bus, which Seymour suggested was an optimistic prediction about how many Act MPs there could be after the election (the party’s 26th ranked candidate Rahul Chopra was also at the bus launch and Seymour said the real goal is to get him into parliament). If there are 20, and Act enters into government with National, Seymour would like to have a third of his MPs around the cabinet table, he told me.

There may be more than just a bus on the campaign trail, however. Seymour said a supporter had offered him the use of a plane to get around on the campaign trail. It’s an offer that he might take up, he said.

Onboard the bus, which was headed to a Grey Lynn debate that Seymour was participating in, Act candidates said they were excited to get out and about in the lead up to the election. Newshub’s Lloyd Burr, armed with a print out of Act’s party list, was vox popping candidates – after first double checking they were actually an Act candidate.

Mark Cameron, who faced some criticism recently for re-emerged tweets from before his time in politics, was one of the current MPs onboard. He’ll be fronting public meetings up and down the country, including a number without Seymour. He said in part that was to allow the public to get to know other MPs in the party beyond the leader, but also that after three years in politics he believed he was capable of speaking to a wide range of subjects.

Later, I asked Seymour whether there were any more dead people who may now be Act supporters (beyond the previously named Kate Sheppard and Nelson Mandela). I directed him to Tara Ward’s piece on the very subject. Seymour appeared to endorse The Spinoff’s suggestions of possible Act voters, and was particularly convinced that Māui would be one. “He was a great user of natural resources. You’d never be able to do what Māui did under the Resource Management Act,” Seymour said.

David Seymour reading some top notch Spinoff content (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Voter uncertainty on the streets of Ashburton

(Photo: Shanti Mathias)

Shanti Mathias on the ground in Ashburton: 

State Highway One between Christchurch and Ashburton is colourful, with green fields dotted with cows and horses, and the spiny silvered line of snowy mountains at the other end of the plains. Blue National signs punctuate the green, although one field is filled with material for Freedoms NZ and another simply asks people to “Party Vote Green”.

In the mid-Canterbury town, few The Spinoff speak to know who they’re going to vote for. Sentiment towards Labour MP Jo Luxton is not positive from those we approach. “Who’s that? That tells you what you need to know,” says retailer Sarah, who would like to see more activities and support for young people. She reckons ram raids are mostly due to boredom, although admits that most of the ram raiding happens in the larger centre of Christchurch.

A younger woman working at a nearby shop, where a photo of King Charles is prominently displayed, says that “New Zealand has gone soft” and “National’s plans for military camps is what we need to get on top of ram raiding”.

Nabi Mohammed, a recent immigrant from Indonesia, is concerned that the government isn’t doing enough to support refugees like his best friend, who is going through the arduous process of trying to leave a refugee camp in Indonesia. He isn’t eligible to vote, but likes what he has heard about National from his co-workers at a building site.

Nabi and his daughter (Photo: Shanti Mathias)

Near the town bus stop, Evan is presenting an “election special” focused on the Biblical truth about evolution and Noah’s Ark. He’s supporting Liz Gunn’s conspiracy pushing party NZ Loyal, describing the former broadcaster as a “dark horse” who has levels of support that aren’t going to be reported.

Visitor Stefan, who sells natural health products and homeschooled his children, is delighted that he’s found someone like-minded, handing Stefan and The Spinoff copies of his latest South Pacific Discovery Times newspaper with new information about the location of Noah’s Ark. He’ll be voting for Winston Peters, although he came from a Labour supporting family on the West Coast and has voted National in the past.

(Photo: Shanti Mathias)

Watch: The Young Greens living and leading together


In the second episode of Youth Wings we meet Lily Chen and Ryan Blackmore, co-leaders of Young Greens. Not only do they run the youth wing of the party together, but they also share a life together. Describing “love at first sight” on their very first Zoom call, the couple both want to see structural change, a safe and sustainable planet and the end of extreme ideologies in Aotearoa. Those values are put to the test on the frontline of the Posie Parker counterprotest in Tāmaki Makaurau, where an incident sees Greens leader Marama Davidson injured. 

Youth Wings is made with support from NZ On Air.

Labour targets gang leaders, promises more cops, in new policy

PM Chris Hipkins in May 2023 (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Labour Party’s promised an additional 300 frontline police officers if reelected in October.

Announced today by leader Chris Hipkins, who is in Hamilton, the party has pledged to create “the best ratio of police to population in modern history”.

“With 300 more cops we would increase the frontline by 2,100 officers since we came into office. This is three times the amount National delivered over the same timeframe, when they were last in office,” said Hipkins in a statement.

“We will also continue to crack down on gangs. Recently, we’ve seen communities disrupted and intimidated by dangerous gang convoys. This is intolerable.”

Hipkins said his party would introduce new laws to punish gangs and target gang leaders. A policy document stated that this would involve tasking agencies that come into contact with gang leaders to develop legislative options that can further restrict gang leaders’ ability to operate, organise, profit and support offending in New Zealand.

“We will go further for victims in relation to stalking and harassment by modernising our laws, to bring them in line with overseas jurisdictions,” Hipkins added. “This will include exploring the possibility of creating an offence for stalking with a penalty of imprisonment.”

Hipkins also took aim at the Act Party, saying that there was a risk of more military-style guns getting into the hands of gangs under the party’s proposals. He also used the phrase “Act-National government” and said a change of government could see the firearms registry canned.

National’s $22m tourism plan includes new Great Walk, e-bike infrastructure

Christopher Luxon at the National Party campaign launch. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

National’s unveiled its election year tourism plan, with leader Christopher Luxon speaking to media from in front of the Queenstown Skyline this morning.

The policy, as reported by 1News, includes a new 80 kilometre Great Walk in the South Island, along with a rise to the working holiday visa from 30 to 35 years for all eligible countries. The $22 million plan also includes an investment in new e-bike chargers for the country’s cycle trails.

“The combination of the pandemic and the Labour government have taken tourism backwards,” said National’s tourism spokesperson Joseph Mooney. “More than a year since borders re-opened, visitor numbers and tourism jobs have not fully recovered. High inflation, high interest rates and broken immigration settings have punished the tourism and hospitality sectors, pushing many small operators to the brink.”

Speaking to media, Luxon said raising the holiday visa age would bring in new tourists to New Zealand. “We want to make New Zealand attractive again as it once was,” he said. “I think it’ll be thousands [of new workers]… hopefully tens of thousands.”

The day ahead

Here’s your daily snapshot of where our political leaders are today.

  • Labour leader Chris Hipkins is in Hamilton today. He’s just spoken at the NZ Chambers of Commerce conference and will this afternoon make a policy announcement related to law and order. Later, he’ll head to the new Kmart distribution centre and visit an ECE centre.
  • Further south, National’s Christopher Luxon will be found today in Queenstown. Look out for him hooning around on a jet boat later today. Before then, he’s scheduled a walkabout at the waterfront and will earlier address the Chamber of Commerce.
  • In Auckland, Marama Davidson from the Greens will spend much of the day with the party’s Mount Albert candidate Ricardo Menendez March. The pair will visit a recycling centre and later a Mount Roskill library.
  • Act leader David Seymour is also in Auckland. He’ll unveil his party’s campaign bus at about lunchtime.

As an aside: I’d love to hear from any of our readers who are experiencing politics in the lead up to Election 2023. Send me funny hoardings, photos from the campaign – anything you might want to see in the live updates. I’m on

The Bulletin: Sāmoan PM says Pacific countries not ‘outposts’ to grow labourers

As the ABC reports, Sāmoan prime minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa has raised deep concerns about the exodus of Pacific workers to Australia and New Zealand, arguing that countries like hers should not be seen merely as “outposts” that “grow” labourers for developed nations. “You know, either to send them off as sportspeople, or to send them off as labour mobility teams and so forth, as though that’s our lot in life,” she said. “I really don’t like that.”

A number of Pacific nations including Vanuatu, Tonga and Sāmoa are anxious about their own workforces being depleted by programmes like New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and Australia’s Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme. Fijian prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka raised similar issues in June when he visited. Rabuka said there had been growing anxiety amongst some Pacific partners in both schemes around the loss of talent and skilled workers that were also needed domestically. The RSE scheme is still under review in New Zealand, with the ongoing issues well covered by Stuff’s Christine Rovoi recently.

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.  

New poll: Labour slips further into the 20s – but there’s a Winston-sized catch

Image: Archi Banal

I wasn’t expecting to discover a brand new poll when I woke up this morning, but Wellington’s newspaper The Post has delivered. It’s published the first Freshwater Strategy poll – bringing with it more bad news for Labour.

The governing party has slumped even further into the 20s, down to 26%. National has surged ahead to 36%.

The Greens are on 12%, Act sits on 11%, and Te Pāti Māori is on 3% (enough to re-enter parliament if it re-secures an electorate seat).

While this may at first glance appear to be incredible news for National and Christopher Luxon, there is a catch. While Luxon would still be prime minister on these numbers, he’d likely want to factor Winston Peters into the mix. New Zealand First lands on 6% and would re-enter parliament.

As Andrea Vance notes, this poll gives 60 seats to National and Act compared with the left bloc’s. But New Zealand First would take seven seats, meaning National would need to negotiate some sort of arrangement in order to stop legislation being blocked from the cross benches.

In his analysis, Stuff’s Luke Malpass notes the poll did not capture Labour’s free dental policy or National’s tax plan. However, it shows National in a more comfortable position. For comparison, this week’s Roy Morgan survey had National on 31% – ahead, but still a pretty low result for a potentially governing party. “The results… will give significant encouragement to the National and Act parties,” writes Malpass.

Chris Hipkins versus Chris Luxon. Image: Archi Banal