Hipkins brings fight to second leaders’ debate

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Hipkins brings fight to second leaders’ debate

It’s Thursday, September 28 and welcome to The Spinoff’s election live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. 

Get in touch with me on

Learn more about the political parties 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 28 2023

The daily wrap

Here are today’s top stories from the election campaign and beyond.

‘Extremely concerning’ – ComCom wants answers over Sanitarium v The Warehouse

Photo: The Warehouse – edited

The Commerce Commission says it’s asked Sanitarium why it’s pulling Weet-Bix off the shelves at The Warehouse, as we reported this afternoon.

In a statement, the commission’s chair John Small said the claims made by The Warehouse were “extremely concerning” and Sanitarium had been asked to explain.

“We are also considering the potential ongoing implications for competition in the grocery sector – particularly given The Warehouse Group’s stated strategy of expanding in the sector,” Small said in a statement.

Sanitarium has so far refused to comment, telling The Spinoff via a PR-issued statement that it its practise was “not to comment on Sanitarium’s production capacities and stock levels”.

Sanitarium won’t explain why Weet-Bix being pulled from The Warehouse

Photo: The Warehouse – edited

Sanitarium won’t explain why they are pulling Weet-Bix products from all 88 Warehouse stores this coming weekend, citing commercial sensitivity.

The Warehouse said that it won’t be provided with the 1.2kg packs of Weet-Bix it’s been selling from 2021, with Sanitarium blaming supply issues.

“As far as we are aware, we [The Warehouse] are the only one affected by this supply shortage. That is again what makes it odd,” Anna Shipley, head of corporate affairs at The Warehouse, told The Spinoff.

“For us it would be fairer to tell everybody that they’re going to have to live with a smaller amount of supply and then everyone, supermarkets included, have to live with less Weet-Bix.”

In a statement provided via a PR agency, Sanitarium refused to comment on the matter any further. “We respect and value the commercial relationships with all our customers. Necessarily, these details will remain confidential,” the spokesperson said.

“Our practise is not to comment on Sanitarium’s production capacities and stock levels. At this time, we have no further comment to make.”

The Commerce Commission said it was extremely concerned by the reports from The Warehouse and had asked Sanitarium to explain. “We are also considering the potential ongoing implications for competition in the grocery sector – particularly given The Warehouse Group’s stated strategy of expanding in the sector,” a spokesperson said.

Read the full story here.

Wellington roads to reopen after ‘uneventful’ protest of 2,000 people

Brian Tamaki in Wellington (Photo by Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)

The roads around parliament will reopen this afternoon after protesters cleared the area without issue, police have said.

No issues have been reported at the rally, which attracted crowds of about 2,000 people led by Brian Tamaki and members of the freedom movement.

“Police maintained a high presence in the city to manage traffic and keep counter protest groups apart,” said acting superintendent Wade Jennings. “Approximately 100 staff were on duty for the protest and march, which was uneventful.”

The crowd has now departed from parliament grounds, said Jennings, and police are continuing to monitor the area as people leave the city.

“We are pleased that our message to protesters seems to have been heeded. The ability to protest peacefully is an important part of being a democratic community – but key for us, is this activity remains peaceful.”

Police will continue to have a presence around the parliamentary precinct this evening and overnight.

National says anti-gang policies would be enforced in first 100 days

Mark Mitchell on his way to question time in parliament on August 6, 2020 (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

National would introduce new legislation to target gangs within its first 100 days in office, the party’s police spokesperson Mark Mitchell said.

Earlier today, Mitchell met a group of gang members on the parliamentary forecourt to hear their opposition to his party’s views. According to the Herald, it was an at-times tense meeting, with Mitchell told his party had wrongly labelled gang members as criminals.

In a statement, Mitchell said National’s 100 day action plan would include new tools to crack down on gangs. “Gangs have been an unwelcome part of New Zealand’s criminal scene for several decades, but over the last six years their numbers and the level of violence they are willing to engage in have increased significantly as Labour have buried their head in the sand,” he said.

The policies include banning gang patches in public and empowering police to issue dispersal notices, which have been previously announced.

At last night’s leaders’ debate, Christopher Luxon was challenged on his party’s view around gang patches, with Chris Hipkins deemed by some pundits to have pulled off a surprise win in the law and order section of the debate.

Freedoms protesters arrive at parliament

Protesters on parliament grounds (Photo: Joel MacManus)

The large crowd of protesters in Wellington have descended on parliament grounds, where they’re effectively hearing a “stump speech” for Brian Tamaki’s Freedoms NZ party, according to our reporter in the capital.

Joel MacManus said the crowd, estimated to me be at least 500, has so far remained peaceful. “They don’t seem that angry,” he said. “It’s very much just a Freedoms NZ campaign rally.”

Tamaki addressed the crowd early on, where he took aim at New Zealand First leader Winston Peters for failing to do more for the anti-vaccination movement. Peters has pledged to assist those with vaccine injuries, though this wasn’t backed by either of the major party leaders in last night’s debate.

There is now a heavy police presence at parliament, with concerns over the rally could escalate. Tamaki has maintained that it would be a peaceful gathering and not an attempt at another occupation.

Several hundred Freedoms protesters rally on the grounds of parliament
Protesters on parliament grounds (Photo: Joel MacManus)


Act wants to ‘end war on landlords’, evict unruly state housing tenants

Brooke van Velden and leader David Seymour at the Act Party election campaign launch, July 2020. (Photo: Greg Bowker/Getty Images)

The Act Party wants to see landlords offered more respect, saying they’ve been “scapegoated” by the current government and blamed for the housing crisis.

David Seymour said his party would “end the war on landlords”, pledging to reinstate interest deductibility and see unruly state housing tenants easily evicted.

“Labour’s policies of removing mortgage interest deductibility, bright-line test extensions, and Residential Tenancies Act, and other, changes have piled cost and bureaucracy on landlords,” said Seymour.

“Real solutions for renters don’t involve pitting tenants against landlords but making it easier to build houses to bring rents down and give tenants more choice.”

Seymour said that if a tenant is kicked out of a state house, they should be placed at the bottom of the waitlist in order to give “more deserving families a home”.

“These tenants would not simply be moved on to another Kāinga Ora tenancy. Act would move them to the bottom of both the public housing and emergency housing waitlists. This will introduce consequences for bad behaviour and provide an incentive for tenants to change their behaviour,” he said.

Hundreds prepare to march to parliament

Doing his own research (on Pornhub): Brian Tamaki. Image: Archi Banal

Hundreds of protesters have gathered in Wellington’s Civic Square ahead of a planned march to parliament.

It’s being led by Brian Tamaki and members of the Freedom and Rights Coalition, though Tamaki told RNZ this morning there were no plans to turn this into another occupation of parliament grounds.

He said his supporters did not condone violence and were not involved in what took place in early 2022.

Addressing the crowd in Wellington, Tamaki reiterated this message. “Protests are supposed to be disruptive but peacefully disruptive,” he said.

“In a world that cancels us, silences us… we need to be heard.”

Concrete bollards have been installed around parliament and the surrounding roads to prevent a repeat of last year’s occupation.

The Herald’s estimated that 500 people at least are ready to march, with speakers so far saying women’s rights and freedom of speech were “under attack”.

Additional police have been called in, though RNZ reported they were not present inside Civic Squre but stationed outside. So far, according to reports, the rally is more of an election campaign speech for the Tamaki’s Freedoms NZ party.

The day ahead

There’s no rest for the wicked, and fresh from last night’s leaders’ debate both Chris Hipkins and Christopher Luxon are heading out around the country again today.

Here’s a look at the day ahead.

  • Labour leader Chris Hipkins is spending the day in Northland. He’ll start in Kawakawa where he is delivering a speech about his party’s ongoing relationship with Māori. Later, he’s visiting the site of the Bay of Islands redevelopment and heading to a housing development. He’ll also front media.
  • Further south, National leader Christopher Luxon is in the Bay of Plenty. He’ll start the day in Tauranga onboard his campaign bus, heading to Te Puke for some sign waving with volunteers. Then, he’s in Whakatāne for a walkabout and a policy announcement, followed by a media stand-up and some more sign waving to wrap the day.
  • In Auckland, Act Party leader David Seymour will make a policy announcement this morning on housing.
  • Both Green Party co-leaders are holding public meetings this evening. Marama Davidson is in Christchurch and James Shaw is in Auckland.
  • New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is taking his campaign tour to Gisborne today.

The Bulletin: National’s fiscal plan due on Friday

National leader Christopher Luxon was asked last night if he would resign if the party couldn’t raise the forecast revenue from its proposed foreign buyers tax. Luxon didn’t answer the question, instead saying he would resign if he couldn’t deliver tax relief to low and middle income New Zealanders. Luxon also confirmed that the party would release its fiscal plan on Friday.

Labour released its plan detailing how it expects to pay for policies, like GST-free fruit and vegetables and building 6,000 more state homes, yesterday. The independent consultancy Infometrics and its principal economist Brad Olsen reviewed the party’s plans and suggested the party’s costings are “reasonable”. There wasn’t much that was unexpected in yesterday’s release, but as Duncan Greive notes, it doubles down on the party’s “trust us with your money” aesthetic.

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.

Luxon says he may change his debate approach after pundits give Hipkins the win

Christopher Luxon and Chris Hipkins. Image: Tina Tiller

Chris Hipkins gave himself a score of nine out of 10 in last night’s debate, a point higher than in the first TVNZ debate. Christopher Luxon admitted he performed slightly weaker, telling media he’d give himself a seven.

But speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning, Luxon said that wasn’t a concession he had lost the second debate, despite most pundits from across the media giving Hipkins the win (you can find our group analysis of the debate here).

If Tova O’Brien’s sources are correct, former PM Helen Clark called Hipkins after that first debate to rark him up and tell him to “fight”, which is exactly what he did.

Luxon said this morning that Hipkins had failed to actually defend his own record and spent the entire debate attacking himself and National. “If you’ve got new ideas to sort out our problems, it’s a good idea to start talking about them,” he told Mike Hosking.

Asked how he might change his debate approach going into next week’s Press debate, Luxon said he’d go much harder about holding Hipkins’ record to account. “Everyone knows Labour is rubbish, they all know they have under delivered, wasted our money… what I’ve been trying to do is say this is what we would do in a practical, commonsense way to actually solve these problems. It just may mean we have to spend a lot more time reminding people of his record,” said Luxon.

One of Luxon’s biggest clangers in last night’s debate was when he said he didn’t know Winston Peters, a comment to which moderator Patrick Gower responded: “It’s Winston Peters, everyone knows him”.

Luxon said that he was simply trying to make it clear that if people want change after October 14, “you have to step up”.

“What I am worried about is that people think we are going to win this thing they are going to park their vote in other places… that’s not possible,” said Luxon. “As a last resort, yup, I’m going to pick up the phone [to Peters] because if we’re short and the choice is three years of these muppets or trying to find a way to work with him, I’ll give it a go. All I’m being is quite pragmatic.”

National’s internal polling has, on occasion, had the party in the 40s, said Luxon. But he wouldn’t reveal where his party was polling as of this week and whether or not it was in line with recent television polls. “I’m trying to say to people it’s not a done deal,” said Luxon.