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Will the tax questions go away?

It’s Friday, September 15 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live election updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund.

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Find more about the political parties and where they stand at

The agenda

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The Spinoff’s coverage of the 2023 election is powered by the generous support of our members. If you value what we do and believe in the importance of independent and freely accessible journalism – tautoko mai, donate today.


Will the tax questions go away?

It’s Friday, September 15 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live election updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund.

Reach me on

Find more about the political parties and where they stand at

The agenda

Support our election coverage

The Spinoff’s coverage of the 2023 election is powered by the generous support of our members. If you value what we do and believe in the importance of independent and freely accessible journalism – tautoko mai, donate today.

Sep 15 2023

Posie Parker cancels return visit to NZ

Image: Archi Banal

The anti-trans campaigner whose March visit sparked protests and rallies around the country has cancelled her planned return visit to New Zealand. Speaking on a TikTok livestream on Friday evening NZT, Parker told 109 viewers that she would no longer be returning to New Zealand.

In March, Parker’s visit and event in central Auckland was cut short after thousands of trans community supporters surrounded the event and drowned out her attempts to speak. One protester tipped tomato juice on her and has since been charged with common assault.

After her abrupt departure, Parker promised to return in September, but has now pulled the plug on those plans. “It’s not a ‘never going back to New Zealand’,” she said on the livestream. “I just don’t trust them… I just can’t do it.”

Today’s top reads from the campaign

That’s it for this week – though of course we will pop in across the weekend if news breaks. FYI, We’re expecting a “battleground” electorates poll on Newshub Nation tomorrow and then Act’s formally launching its election campaign on Sunday afternoon.

In the meantime, here’s what you may have missed today.

That’s all from me, for now. Catch you back on Monday.

Judith Collins ‘loving’ not being National leader this election

Judith Collins at the launch of the National Party Conference in South Auckland. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

National’s going into the final month of the election campaign as the favourite, with polls showing the party sneaking over the 40% mark.

But three years ago, it was a very different story. In September 2020, a Newshub Reid Research poll had National under Judith Collins at 29.6% (admittedly, above where Labour is today) compared to Labour’s whopping 50.1%.

Since then, there’s been a change of leader and Collins now has her sights set on becoming a minister in a Christopher Luxon-led government.

At an event in Auckland today, Collins announced that National would create a new minister for technology role if elected in October. As the party’s spokesperson for science, innovation and technology, Collins would be the likely candidate for the new minister position. But she told The Spinoff that, as with any cabinet decisions, it would ultimately “be up to the prime minister”.

She said “there have been conversations” with Luxon about it and signalled that the key to picking up the role would involve working hard up until the election.

Asked how she was finding this election campaign given she wasn’t the leader, Collins said enthusiastically that she was loving it. “I’m having so much fun,” she said, adding that she’d been out and about campaigning in her local electorate of Papakura.

Judith Collins as leader of the National Party. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Big and sad news: Kim Hill to step down from long-running Saturday show

Living legend of Aotearoa broadcasting Kim Hill says menopause ‘won’t shut up’. (Photo: supplied)

Broadcasting icon Kim Hill has announced she’ll be stepping down from her Saturday Morning show on RNZ.

She’s hosted the programme since 2002, having joined RNZ in 1985. In a statement, RNZ’s chief executive Paul Thompson said Hill would remain involved with the broadcaster in 2024 and is “working” on ideas for a series of in-depth interviews.

“Our audiences trust and love her deeply. Her work over many years at RNZ has provided listeners with immense pleasure and enlightenment,” said Thompson. “She is a national taonga and we are all going to miss her Saturday Morning show incredibly. I am so pleased she will be doing some work for us next year after she has had a break.”

Alongside her tenure as Saturday Morning host, Hill has been a regular fill-in on Morning Report, delivering some of the show’s most exhilarating interviews over the past few years. Hill said “It is time for a change for me. I look forward to having a break.”

Hill’s last regular show will be November 25.

Luxon won’t make same resignation commitment over tax plan

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

Christopher Luxon’s not making the same commitment as his deputy when it comes to the implementation of National’s tax plan.

Speaking to Stuff’s Tova O’Brien yesterday, Nicola Willis said she would quit as finance minister if a potential National government couldn’t deliver tax relief.

Asked repeatedly at a press conference today whether he’d make the same commitment, Luxon wasn’t prepared to go that far. “We’ve made a series of commitments, Nicola and I… I’m telling you we are going to deliver tax relief to working New Zealanders,” he told reporters.

“I’m going to be committed to delivering tax relief to New Zealanders. Low and middle income New Zealanders deserve a tax break and what’s genius about this scheme is we are reprioritising savings from within wasteful spending from this government.”

He added: “I am deeply committed to delivering tax relief to New Zealanders… I’m going to do it on October 15.”

National promises to grow the tech sector

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

A National government would grow Aotearoa’s tech industry by making it easier for workers to immigrate, announced leader Christopher Luxon in Auckland this morning. As part of its repeated calls to help New Zealand “get its mojo back”, the party would create a ministerial portfolio for technology, and attract workers who had experience in “top global tech companies” with a specific visa.

The visa would also be open to those working in New Zealand but working at offshore companies remotely. Luxon also said that entry pathways to New Zealand would be open to graduates of “top-100” universities. The announcement did not clarify which university ranking these pathways would be derived from.

In the announcement, the party leader made reference to the Prefu and the state of the New Zealand government’s books. “We understand that growth comes from the hard work, innovation and risk-taking in the private sector,” said Luxon in a press release. “Inviting the best in the world to join us, [sic] makes sense.”

The Pop-up Globe returns… inside

(Photo: Tina Tiller)

The founders of the Pop-up Globe announced that it would be remounting its successful production of Twelfth Night at Q Theatre.

“We can’t wait to welcome Pop-up Globe’s fans at Q Theatre, and on the next stage of the Pop-up Globe adventure,” said co-founder Tobias Grant. The venture returns with Grant and former Pop-Up Globe director David Lawrence, who will be helming this production. This production will not involve the physical Globe building, but will be staged in Q Theatre’s Rangatira space. It will open on October 17, and run for a strictly limited season of five nights.

The Pop-Up Globe originally ran from 2016 to 2020, producing Shakespeare shows in a physical replica of the Globe Theatre in England. During that time, it played to 750,000 ticket holders, and toured to Sydney and Perth. That success was not without controversy, however, and it came under fire for its initial pitch of an all-male season of Measure for Measure in 2018 and its dubious level of engagement with the arts sector.

In 2020, the company was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and as The Spinoff reported in 2021, it was placed into liquidation, and ran into issues with varying creditors. (The press release reports that the liquidator, Gareth Hoole of Ecovis KGA, put co-founder Grant under instruction to “create future trading” for the company.)

“The first step is simple,” said Grant. “Get our team back together, make a Pop-up Globe show, and delight some Pop-up Globe fans in a short season at our home in Auckland. When it is successful, we get to take the next step.”

Tickets are available at Q Theatre now.

Willis would resign as finance minister if she can’t deliver tax reduction

Nicola Willis (Photo: Getty Images)

Nicola Willis has staked being the next finance minister on her party’s pledge to deliver tax relief.

She’s told two media outlets that she would resign from the role if the promise doesn’t eventuate. Appearing on Tova O’Brien’s Stuff podcast yesterday, Willis said “it would be a resignation offence if I didn’t deliver tax reduction”.

And on TVNZ’s Breakfast today, she doubled down. “I am going to ensure that National meets its commitment to deliver tax reduction. I do care that it adds up. If we didn’t deliver tax reduction, yes, I would resign, because we are making a commitment to the New Zealand people, and we intend to keep it.”

Under pressure to release the full costings behind the foreign buyer tax element of the overall plan, Willis refused to say whether or not she’d resign over whether that added up. “I haven’t even got the job yet,” she told O’Brien.

The day ahead

Another week of the campaign trail comes to a close (well, sort of, the political leaders will be out and about over the weekend too). Here’s a look at where everyone will be today (that we know of).

  • Labour leader Chris Hipkins is back in the North Island. He’s spending the day in Lower Hutt and Porirua, first speaking at the Good Youth Employment Symposium. Later, he’ll meet with the Kindergarten Association, visit a Kāinga Ora development and talk with Women’s Refuge workers.
  • Up in Auckland, we’re expecting a policy announcement from National leader Christopher Luxon. He’ll visit FutureHouse in Parnell this morning.
  • Down in Christchurch, Act Party leader David Seymour will make a welfare policy announcement this afternoon and visit the Riverside Market.

Listen: Is an economic summer on the horizon?

On the new episode of When the Facts Change, Kiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr tells Bernard Hickey why there are early signs of a rebound in confidence and hope for the summer to come, and into next year, despite the interest rate hikes.

Listen below or wherever you get your pods

Plus: Find a new episode of The Spinoff’s politics podcast, Gone by Lunchtime, here.

The Bulletin: Nearly 1,000 Airbnb homeowners are breaking Christchurch Council rules

Just four Airbnb homes in Christchurch have applied for required consents since new rules were introduced earlier this year, The Press reports this morning (paywalled). Since July 24, owners of short-let properties located in residential zones have needed a resource consent to rent them out for more than 60 days a year, unless the owner also lives in the property themselves. Yet of the 990 homes estimated to be in that category, just 24 owners have applied for a consent.

Of those scant applications, most were received before the rules came into effect. “The Christchurch City Council has also yet to figure out exactly how it will ensure owners abide by the rules and apply for a consent,” Law writes. Getting consent costs about $1000, but one Airbnb business owner says she’s been told it could cost more if a planner was needed or if the council needed more information.

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. 

‘Show us the costings’: Robertson heckles Willis over tax plan

Nicola Willis and Christopher Luxon (Image: Tina Tiller)

The debate over National’s proposed foreign buyer tax headed deep into the heart of a region likely to be most affected by the tax last night: Queenstown.

As detailed in The Bulletin, foreign spokespeople from across the four biggest political parties participated in the first major debate of this year’s election, the ASB Great Debate.

It saw National’s Nicola Willis asked once again to release the full costings for her planned 15% tax on luxury homes, costings that have so far remained secret.

“Where’s your costings for your plan? Where’s your costings? Show us the costings,” asked Labour’s Grant Robertson. “[The] “numbers don’t add up”.

Willis responded: “I have put out a 30-page document Grant, and do you know what it has got at the heart of it? New Zealanders getting to keep more of their own money because they are the sick of the way you spend it.”

Echoing comments she made in the media yesterday, Willis rejected the claims made by a group of independent economists that the tax plan wouldn’t make close to the suggested $730 million.

“I will tell you about economists, you get six of them in a room and there will be seven different opinions. I respect the fact that economists have different opinions, but I stand by our costings,” Willis said.

“What they require is for us to sell less than half as many homes as sold to foreigners before the foreign buyer ban was placed on. That’s actually pretty conservative.”

Nicola Willis and Christopher Luxon (Image: Tina Tiller)

It’s an interesting issue. On the one hand, Newstalk ZB’s Kate Hawkesby probably has a point when she writes that “voters don’t care about costings”.

“People are looking at the mood, the state of their bank accounts, the state of their mortgages, the state of the country in general, and they’re saying, no thanks. Time for change,” she said in her editorial this morning. I said as much yesterday when I wrote that National’s Christopher Luxon can probably smile and wave his way out of this debate given his party’s rising popularity.

But, one of the economists involved in that new modelling, Michael Reddell, told Newshub that National was opting “to bluster and deny and hope the news moves on”. Whether the news does move on, who knows. Luxon will almost certainly face more tax questions today while on the campaign trail here in Auckland.