Aug 21 2023

New poll shows National and Act opening up lead as Labour slumps into 20s

The election is on October 14. Image: Archi Banal

National is on course to govern with Act in support, based on new polling by Verian (Kantar) for 1News. Support for Labour, meanwhile, has dropped into the 20s for the first time six years.

The poll puts National on 37%, up two points from the previous a month ago, with Labour on 29%, down four points. Act rises by a point to 13%, with the Greens up two to 12%. New Zealand First is edging closer to the threshold on 3.7% (up one) with Te Pāti Māori on 2.6%. Freedoms NZ is on 0.7% with TOP and ALCP on 0.6%.

Translated into seats in parliament, National would have 48, with 17 from Act making a combined 65 of a likely 120 seats.

If you topped up NZ First’s number in this poll, for argument’s sake, to 5%, National and Act would still win enough seats (62) to govern without going cap in hand to Winston Peters.

Chris Hipkins falls three points to 21% in the preferred by prime minister stakes, with Christopher Luxon steady on 20%. That’s a paltry 41% of decided voters combined. David Seymour is down one to 6% and Peters up one to 3%.

Hipkins told 1News that Labour's campaign "hasn't even started yet", and that "I'm absolutely determined we're going to go into this campaign, we're going to campaign hard, we're going to turn this around and we're going to win."

Luxon said, "what we're seeing is a government that is tired, it's out of ideas, frankly it's out of touch and I think it's increasingly out of time."

Labour last week confirmed a widely criticised policy to exempt GST from fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables as well as other cost of living measures and a new pledge for parental leave, but only the latter half of the polling period, from August 12 to August 16, came after those announcements.

Chris Hipkins and Christopher Luxon.

James Wallace formally stripped of knighthood

Photo: Getty Images / Design: The Spinoff

King Charles has approved the cancellation of James Wallace’s knighthood, the prime minister announced this afternoon.

Chris Hipkins said he had written to the well-known arts philanthropist to advise him of the decision.

“James Wallace was found guilty and imprisoned for serious crimes and it is totally inappropriate for him to hold any honour,” Hipkins said at parliament this afternoon.

“He can no longer use the title of sir and has been asked to return his warrant of appointment and his honours insignia.”

Wallace was found guilty of sexually assaulting three men at his Epsom home, Rannoch House. These assaults had occurred in 2000 or 2001, 2008 and 2016.

National to reinstate prescription fees for some, use cash to fund cancer treatments

National leader Christopher Luxon and Shane Reti speak to media (Image: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

National would scrap the government’s policy of universal free prescriptions, instead funnelling that money into funding 13 cancer treatments.

Announced this afternoon from a clinic in Auckland, National leader Christopher Luxon said a government he leads would still provide free prescriptions for superannuitants and those on low-incomes.

For everyone else, the total amount any family will pay for prescriptions in a year would be capped at $100. With the money leftover, $280 million would be ring-fenced for Pharmac over four years to pay for new cancer therapies. “We think this is a better use of taxpayers’ money than paying $5 prescription fees for everyone, including those who can afford to pay it themselves,” said Luxon, suggesting people like himself and Chris Hipkins did not need a blanket subsidy.

“What is the right approach is to say that people who can afford to pay for prescriptions, should,” Luxon told The Spinoff. Asked whether all seniors needed free prescriptions, considering many are wealthy, the National leader said this was the “cleanest” approach. “We can get to low income users through the community services card, we can get to seniors through the super gold card and we can say to all other New Zealanders… after $100 [prescriptions] are free as well.”

There was “no justification” for giving free prescriptions to people who could pay, said Luxon, and investing in healthcare was a better approach.

The New Zealand Cancer Control Agency recently identified 13 treatments for lung, bowel, kidney, and head and neck cancers that provide significant clinical benefits and are funded in Australia but not in New Zealand, said Luxon.

“Under National, New Zealanders will not have to leave the country, mortgage their home, or start a Givealittle page to fund potentially life-saving and life-extending treatments that are proven to work and are readily available across the Tasman,” he told media.

National leader Christopher Luxon and his health spokesperson Shane Reti
National leader Christopher Luxon and his health spokesperson Shane Reti (Image: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Reminder: The Youth Wings 2023 live debate is next week!

Youth Wings, series two: Coming soon to The Spinoff (Image: Archi Banal)

We are hosting a live debate in Auckland next week for season two of Youth Wings. Chaired by Toby Manhire and featuring Dallas Kete (Young Nats), Ollie Murphy (Young Act), Keegan Langeveld (Young NZ First), Jas McIntosh (Young Labour), and Lily Chen and Ryan Blackmore (Young Greens), we’d love a good crowd there to cheer them on.

If you’re a Spinoff member and would like to come, please email us by Friday for more info at

Not a member yet? Join up to gain access to exciting events like this – and help us bring you more of the content you love. It’s a win/win!

New teaching requirements for core subjects set to be introduced

Image: Getty

The government’s announced plans to mandate the learning of maths, reading and writing at all state and state integrated schools as part of the national curriculum.

It sees cross-party consensus on the need for a more consistent focus on core subjects, with National having previously announced its “teaching the basis, brilliantly” policy that included an hour of reading, writing and maths every day at primary school.

The education minister Jan Tinetti said the changes would be legislated and become part of the updated curriculum from the start of 2025, with core teaching requirements then compulsory from 2026.

“The compulsory core teaching requirements will outline what teachers have to cover off at every year level across a child’s time at school,” said Tinetti.

“Teachers will be supported with guidance, professional development, and materials to implement these changes and ensure there is consistency across all schools to give all kids equal opportunity.”

Yesterday, Labour announced an election year policy to also make financial literacy a compulsory core part of learning across all years levels, a move that was also generally endorsed across the political spectrum.

The Bulletin: More than $3b of Christchurch assets at risk of flooding in 25 years

A quarter of Christchurch’s roads, a sixth of its residential properties, and a third of its drinking water and stormwater pipes will be affected by coastal erosion and flooding within the next 25 years, reports Tina Law for The Press (paywalled). That time frame is when sea levels are expected to have risen by about 20 cm, and the council’s climate change lead, Sara Templeton, says adaptation planning for the city’s coastal communities is becoming urgent.

At the current rate of progress it would take 14 years to complete the process for all coastal communities, so council staff want to spend another $1.5m each year to employ a second team of staff to scale up the programme. Templeton also wants the council to introduce a climate change levy to support the work. While acknowledging that there would be “push back” to the rate increase, she says being able to fund climate adaptation is vital for the future of the city.

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.

Financial literacy at schools not ‘pie in the sky’, says Labour

Jan Tinetti speaks to reporters (Getty Images)

The Labour Party has announced a plan to introduce mandatory financial literacy courses for students across all year levels from 2025.

It would start in in primary school and then be taught mainly through maths and social sciences in secondary school.

Prime minister Chris Hipkins said all young New Zealanders should be able to leave school knowing how to manage their finances. “It’s too important to be left to chance,” he said.

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Labour’s education spokesperson Jan Tinetti said there was mention of financial capability within the new curriculum review – but it’s become clear it should be more compulsory.

“I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time,” Tinetti, who is also the current education minister, said. “I would say I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple of years, it’s probably in the last six months that it started to formulate in my mind that this needed to be something that we took into the election as a manifesto commitment. I’ve spoken to many, many people who work in this sector.”

While both National and Act have loosely endorsed the idea, both expressed some concern around implementation. National’s deputy Nicola Willis told reporters it should have been done earlier, but her party would match it if elected come October. Act’s David Seymour was also supportive, though queried Labour’s true motive.

“Will Labour be committed to pulling off a regime like that or have they come to make financial literacy mandatory because it sounds good in focus groups 55 days before an election?” he said. (He also added on Twitter that “it would make much more sense for kids to teach Labour MPs about money”, which is just kind of funny).

Tinetti rejected concerns around implementation and resourcing, saying this won’t be an extra demand on teachers. “We will be putting together with the sector and with businesses a framework of progression, just like we did with the New Zealand history curriculum that was introduced,” she told RNZ. “It has got the framework there that teachers can easily see… we want to make this as easy as possible. We’re not announcing something that’s pie in the sky.”

The plan also has some initial support from outside parliament. Life Education Trust CEO John O’Connell told Newstalk ZB it was great to see financial literacy was finally being recognised, while financial experts have also given the proposal a thumbs up. However, some in the education sector have expressed concern at an increased workload for teachers already under the pump.