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National’s fiscal plan promises bigger surplus

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National’s fiscal plan promises bigger surplus

It’s Friday, September 29. Welcome to The Spinoff’s election live updates.

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 29 2023

‘Politically motivated attack’: Te Pāti Māori candidate’s home vandalised, ‘threatening letter’ left

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke. Photo: Supplied

Te Pāti Māori’s candidate for Hauraki-Waikato says her home was “invaded, vandalised, and left with a threatening letter” in what the party is calling a “politically motivated attack”.

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi Clark said the “premeditated and targeted attack” was the latest of three incidents to take place at her home just this week.

“I am not scared… I am here to be a light and a māramatanga to us that we belong in these places,” said Maipi-Clark at a debate tonight.

Maipi Clark is 21-years-old and could become New Zealand’s youngest MP in 170 years.

“This escalation of danger is what happens when right wing politicians race bait and fear monger for votes. They have emboldened this type of behaviour. Now it is time we embolden ourselves,” said a statement from the party.

“When our billboards are vandalised, and when our candidates are verbally assaulted, it is not an attack on them as individuals or us as a political party. It is an attack on what we represent: our whakapapa, our culture, and the dreams of our tupuna and mokopuna.”

Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke. Photo: Supplied

Labour candidate slapped following debate in Taranaki


Labour candidate Angela Roberts, a list MP campaigning in Taranaki-King Country, was shaken and slapped by a member of the public following a debate on Tuesday this week. She described the incident on Facebook. While talking about education policy with an attendee after an event at Inglewood Rotary Club, the man “grabbed my shoulders and shook me in order to emphasise the point he was making,” she wrote. “Then he slapped my cheeks with both hands. At this point I walked away and gathered my things and he left. Others checked that I was OK. I said that I was and left for home.”

“Manhandling candidates on the campaign trail is completely unacceptable. I don’t know why he felt that it was OK to grab me or to slap me; that is a question for him. Would he have done it to a man? Who knows. What I do know is that it cannot happen again,” she added.

National MP Barbara Kuriger, who was also present, checked in with Roberts after the incident.

Prime minister Chris Hipkins said he understood that Roberts had filed a police report. “We have been very mindful … of candidate safety. My number one message to all of my team has been if you are concerned for your safety in any situation, don’t put yourself in that situation.

“If that means not going to a meeting and being criticised for not going to that meeting because you don’t feel safe going there, I will absolutely defend you doing that.”

‘Forcing more children into poverty’: Labour responds to National’s fiscal plan

Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson (Image design: Tina Tiller)

Labour says National’s plan to index benefits to inflation rather than wages will result in more children living in poverty.

Speaking in Lower Hutt today, party leader Chris Hipkins said National was proposing “$2 billion in benefit cuts”. “In the middle of a cost of living crisis, they’re cutting benefits and giving tax breaks to speculators and landlords, and this will result in more children living in poverty.”

Earlier today, National leader Christopher Luxon denied his party’s proposed change to benefits, which the party said would save $2 billion, amounted to cuts, saying benefits would continue to rise as the cost of living did. National’s plan is a return to how benefits were calculated before a change made by the Labour government in its 2019 budget.

Before this change was made, because wages traditionally rise faster than inflation, they increased as benefits remained low, increasing the gap between those who are in work and those who aren’t.

Labour says National’s plan would see main benefits drop by an average of $2,621 a year by 2028 compared to its own proposal. Labour released its welfare platform today, mainly existing policies framed as a package, but including an increase in abatement thresholds to incentivise people to take up part-time work.

In a press release, Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said, “The children’s commissioner said that indexing benefits to wage growth as Labour has done was the best thing a government could do to reduce child poverty. The inverse is true; the worst thing that National could do is take that away, and today they have done that.”

Robertson also said National’s fiscal plan had “failed to fill the massive fiscal hole in its dodgy tax scheme”, referencing doubts over the party’s foreign buyer tax proposal, which he said would result in deep cuts in public services and an end to the funding of climate action.

Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson (Image design: Tina Tiller)

Nicola Willis confirms plan for pre-Christmas mini-budget

Nicola Willis and Christopher Luxon (Image: Tina Tiller)

A National-led government would deliver “a mini-budget before Christmas”, Nicola Willis has confirmed, with the intention of “setting out some of the savings and reprioritisations we believe are necessary to get New Zealand back on track”.

Speaking as National unveiled its fiscal plan, she said heads of government departments and senior public servants would be tasked immediately with identifying areas of savings. To pay for tax cuts, National’s plan includes $594 million annual public service cuts, averaging 6.5% across the sector. “Those recommendations will come up to ministers. Ministers will be ultimately responsible for decision making.”

When asked about the tight timing of a process to feed into a mid-December mini-budget, Willis said, “I’m told many of them are already working on it,” before correcting herself. “I’m sorry, that was a rough way of me saying what I mean.” She did not intend to suggest people were assuming National would be in the Beehive, she said. Irrespective of the government, heads of departments were “thinking about where are the areas we could make savings … in line with the times. I don’t think there are any public servants acting inappropriately.”

Christopher Luxon refused to entertain the possibility that public service leaders might not be able to find the cuts. “We’re going to deliver those savings,” he said. 

Nicola Willis and Christopher Luxon. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

National sets aside funding for predicted rise in prison population 

National deputy Nicola Willis (Photo: Getty, design Tina Tiller)

National’s “tough-on-crime” approach will result in a higher prison population, and $700 million has been set aside to deal with this, Nicola Willis has confirmed. 

“We do expect the prison population to rise as a result of our sentencing policy,” National’s finance spokesperson said at the announcement of the party’s fiscal plan today. “We have set aside a total of $718m in contingency.”

That figure is based on a predicted increase of 1,400 prisoners over the next four years, costed on the basis of current average per-prisoner costs.

“National will assess the impact of sentencing changes over time and adjust spending allocations accordingly, including any allocations from the Multi Year Capital Allowance for more prison capacity, if required,” says the fiscal plan.

National is also setting aside $18m to cover the cost of retrofitting existing military facilities to host National’s young offender military academies, on top of the $60m in operating commitments previously announced.

National promises bigger surplus by 2027

Nicola Willis and Christopher Luxon (Image: Tina Tiller)

National is promising a bigger surplus and lower debt than Labour in its fiscal plan, which has just been released by leader Christopher Luxon and finance spokesperson Nicola Willis in Auckland.

National’s plan says a surplus of $2.9 billion will be reached in 2027 – the same year as Labour. But at $2.9 billion, National’s surplus is $800m bigger than what Labour predicted in its plan, which was released on Wednesday.

Government debt would be down $3.4 billion on Prefu forecasts, according to National’s plan, and future spending allowances would have buffers – “$9.9 billion of unallocated operating spending to ensure we can respond to cost pressures and changing circumstances”. Funding increases for health and education would be prioritised and infrastructure would be invested in, while spending on bureaucracy would be reduced, according to National. The plan also takes into account the party’s previously announced tax cuts.

Economics consultancy firm Castalia reviewed National’s fiscal plan. While noting it had not been asked to verify the costs of every policy throughout the plan, the consultants said: “We can confirm National’s calculations are consistent and that their policies can be met from the proposed spending allowances. Their proposed allowances are fully reflected in the projected net debt and Obegal.”

Parties use Facebook less – and don’t always share accurate information

Orange Guy wants to stop misinformation (Image: Archi Banal)

Smaller parties contending the 2023 election use social media most, shows a new study. Conducted by Victora University’s Internet, Social Media and Politics Research Lab, researchers analysed 681 posts made by political parties and party leaders on Facebook. Act posted almost twice as much as any other party.

“Most of these posts are in fact posts by the party leader David Seymour and not by the party. Apparently, Seymour aims at becoming New Zealand’s new social media powerhouse in the post-Ardern era,” said lead researcher Mona Krewel.

The NZ Outdoors and Freedom Party posted more than any other party not currently in Parliament. Nearly 11% of posts from NZ Outdoors and Freedom contained false information, Krewel said.

Information shared by parties in parliament did not have false information but did contain “half truths”, where elements were exaggerated or details were wrong. Parties across the political spectrum are guilty of this, but those outside parliament have distorted the truth more frequently.

“We are just one week into the final campaign phase, but what we see overall makes me slightly optimistic about the quality of this election campaign. The mis- and disinformation level is not high and seems largely limited to a group of minor parties and their leaders who neither have much outreach nor success in the polls. But we will be monitoring closely how things develop from here,” Krewel said.

Māori leaders pen open letter condemning racism from political candidates

‘It was clear Hipkins hadn’t just got the message, he’d ground it into a paste and injected it into his spinal cord’

Māori leaders, including Dame Naida Glavish, Tā Mark Solomon and Tukoroirangi Morgan, have released an open letter to politicians this morning calling on them to “call out racism and race-baiting and publicly condemn it”.

The letter appears to reference a line from National leader Christopher Luxon’s speech at Waitangi this year, where he referred to the Treaty as a “little experiment”.

“It is ignorant to call the signing of te Tiriti a ‘wee experiment’,” it says. Luxon clarified his comments after his speech, saying every country’s birth is an experiment.

The letter also appears to refer to the Act Party’s policy of “clearly defining the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi” by passing a Treaty Principles Act.

“It is ignorant to think you have a right to erase te Tiriti from legislation and rewrite it in your own words,” it says.

The letter supports Labour leader Chris Hipkins’ recent comments about racism and race-baiting by politicians. Hipkins challenged Luxon during the Newshub leaders’ debate on Wednesday night about working with NZ First, citing comments by NZ First candidate Rob Ballantyne made at a public meeting last week.

In a speech delivered in Kawakawa yesterday, Hipkins said he’d decided to “do something novel, and that’s tell the truth and stick to my values”.

“I’m going to be open and transparent about why I support a Māori Health Authority, why I believe in te Tiriti and why I think it’s important to our future that Māori and the Crown work together – and that when we do we are not only at our best as a country but whole new opportunities open up for all of us,” he said.

Hipkins took aim at “leaders who see anti-Māori positions as vote winner”, explicitly referencing National leader Christopher Luxon’s use of the phrase “one system for all” in answer to questions about the Māori Health Authority at the TVNZ leaders’ debate last week. Hipkins said these lines play on people’s fears that “Māori somehow get something other New Zealanders don’t”.

He also drew a line in the sand on leaders who play to the “middle ground”, keeping quiet “on Māori issues” “for fear of being seen as too ‘pro-Māori’ and losing votes.”

The Bulletin: Willis scores big with CEOs in Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom

National leader Chris Luxon beats his Labour rival – though not overwhelmingly so – in the NZ Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom survey out this morning. The regular pre-election survey of 100 business leaders asks them to rank government ministers and opposition MPs on their handling of economic issues and overall political skills. On average, the prime minister Chris Hipkins scores 2.9 out of 5 on a scale from 1, “not impressive”, to 5 for “very impressive”. Just 5% of respondents marked Hipkins as very impressive, although 28% scored him at 4 out of 5. Luxon scores an average of 3.49.

Chief executives also rated National’s controversial tax plan – fiscal details of which are due to be released this afternoon – at an average of 3.17/5 on a 1-5 scale from “not credible” to “very credible”. “Meanwhile, in a Cabinet criticised by business for its inability to execute some flagship Labour policies, Damien O’Connor stood out for ‘getting stuff done’,” the Herald reports. He scored 3.2 / 5, the highest of any current cabinet minister. As for the finance chiefs, 58% of respondents said Grant Robertson has been a credible minister of finance, while 83% think Nicola Willis has presented herself as a credible future finance minister.

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