Welcome to The Spinoff’s Election Live for October 1, bringing you the latest on election 2020 and other NZ news. The essential campaign dates are here. For all you need to know about the cannabis referendum click here. For the assisted dying referendum click here. Explore the parties’ pledges at Policy. I’m on email@example.com
9.30pm: The second 2020 leaders’ debate in two and a half minutes
7.45pm: The day in sum
There were 12 cases of Covid-19, all in managed isolation. Ten of the cases originated on the same flight from India.
Advance NZ failed in its eleventh hour High Court bid to be allowed to appear in Saturday’s minor party Newshub debate.
Labour pledged to complete two current investigations into the price of supermarket groceries and building supplies should it be returned to government.
Labour also released its fiscal plan for the coming years, built around the government’s budget and the recently released pre-election economic and fiscal update.
National said it would invest $600 million into developing a long term plan for water storage if elected next month.
National leader Judith Collins emphatically rejected the prospect of a coalition agreement with Advance NZ, because she’s “not insane”.
Just 2.8% of applications for compassionate leave from managed isolation were approved between July and September, according to MBIE figures.
4.55pm: Only 2.8% of compassionate leave exemptions from managed isolation granted
Between July 13 – when MBIE took over management of managed isolation facilities – and September 23, just 2.8% of applications for compassionate leave were approved, Stuff reports. The compassionate leave exemption was introduced to allow returning New Zealanders to leave managed isolation to attend funerals or visit dying loved ones in cases where the risk to the public is deemed sufficiently low.
“In making a decision, the exemptions team assess where the applicant has travelled from, how many countries and airports they transited through, what work they were involved in prior to arriving in New Zealand, and who they’re trying to visit,” Stuff explains.
“A total of 677 exceptional circumstance exemptions were made on compassionate grounds over the 73-day period. Of these, 19 were approved, 435 were declined and 168 were withdrawn or not progressed further.”
Stuff also reports that in the same period, only 4% of applications for general “exceptional circumstances” exemptions were approved.
3.00pm: All new Gone By Lunchtime, featuring Mihi Forbes
Fresh from moderating five election debates, Hui host Mihingarangi Forbes joins the usual crowd of Toby Manhire, Annabelle Lee-Mather and Ben Thomas to evaluate last night’s Patrick Gower chaired Newshub leader debate, as well as the state of the polls and the SFO versus Winston Peters 5pm high noon. Get the good oil (fish infused, obviously) by searching Gone By Lunchtime on your usual podcast platform or here.
2.00pm: National hits back at ‘$140 billion mistake’ in Labour’s fiscal plan
A typo in Labour’s fiscal plan has led to National hitting out at the party for a “$140 billion mistake”.
Earlier today, Labour released its economic costings for the coming years, only hours after National leader Judith Collins attacked the party for its lack of a spending document during the campaign (see the 12.20pm update).
As noted by our political editor Justin Giovannetti, the plan included a typo: it suggested the government would have less debt at the peak of the Covid-19 debt crisis than the government started with in 2020 – a difference of almost $140 billion.
Specifically, the plan used the wrong unit, with the axis of the graph showing how much debt there will be in dollar terms, not as a percentage of GDP.
National’s Paul Goldsmith has latched onto this, saying Labour should rip up the plan and start again – a phrase Grant Robertson had previously used about National’s plan.
“Labour’s fiscal ‘plan’ is nothing more than a seven page pamphlet. You would think with so few numbers they would be able to get them all right. Instead, they’ve got their own debt number wrong by $140 billion,” Goldsmith said.
“It shows just how little Labour cares about the debt they’re burdening future generations with. To miscalculate your fiscal projections by $140 billion is unheard of.”
1.50pm: I’m scared of these feet
Just a brief news interruption to alert you to some art that is both incredible and terrifying in equal measure.
I guess times of crisis do produce great art pic.twitter.com/km4ehOPpkc
— Ben Thomas (@BenThomasNZ) September 30, 2020
Spinoff columnist and Gone By Lunchtime co-host Ben Thomas has shared some street art of prime minister Jacinda Ardern (at least, I think that’s the prime minister). Pause, appreciate it, and then continue with your day.
There’s no word yet if NZ Herald cartoonists Rod Emmerson and Guy Body are, in fact, in bed with the PM.
1.35pm: ‘I’m not insane’ – Collins rules out working with Advance NZ
Don’t expect a coalition agreement between National and Advance NZ. National’s leader Judith Collins emphatically rejected any chance of extending a hand to her former colleague Jami-Lee Ross, who is co-leader of Advance NZ.
“Absolutely,” she said when asked if she could rule out a coalition agreement. “Because I’m not insane.”
1.00pm: 12 new Covid-19 cases, all in managed isolation
There are 12 new Covid-19 cases, the Ministry of Health has revealed, all detected in managed isolation. There are no new cases in the community.
Of the new cases, ten came from India, one from the US and one from the Philippines.
All 12 people have now been transferred to a quarantine facility, director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay announced.
The ten new cases from India were all on the same flight. “The cases were spread throughout the plane, on their flight to New Zealand, sitting between rows 14 to 41,” McElnay said.
This is a higher number of new cases than usual, McElnay said, emphasising the fact that the rest of the world continues to battle Covid-19. Testing in managed isolation also remained important, she said.
There are 14 people currently in the Auckland quarantine facility from the community, McElnay said, including five people who tested positive for Covid-19 and their household contacts.
Just one person remains in hospital with Covid-19: they are in isolation at Middlemore on a general ward.
Three additional cases have recovered as of Thursday, bringing the total number of active cases to 55, with 42 imported and 11 detected in the community.
There are now 1492 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
On Wednesday, laboratories processed 5679 tests, bringing the test total to date to 966,238.
1.00pm: Advance NZ barred from Newshub debate
Advance NZ, the party co-led by Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika, has had its attempt to appear in an upcoming Newshub debate rejected.
The party had staged an eleventh hour High Court battle to appear in the “Powerbrokers” debate, set to air this weekend.
In 2017, the Opportunities Party made a similar court claim, which was also rejected. However, the Conservatives, under Colin Craig, successfully challenged Mediaworks in 2017.
The Newshub debate will feature the Greens, Act, New Zealand First and the Māori Party.
In a High Court judgment published this afternoon, Justice Walker concluded that Mediaworks had not applied arbitrary or unreasonable criteria in excluding Advance NZ from the debate.
“Even if the threshold was reached, I am not persuaded that the balance of convenience favours the grant of interim relief.”
A Mediaworks spokesperson said they were “happy” with the outcome.
12.45pm: Will our run of zero community Covid-19 cases continue?
The Ministry of Health will be giving a live press conference at 1pm today, to reveal further details on any new Covid-19 cases.
It’s being fronted by director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay, rather than Ashley Bloomfield.
On The Spinoff: Alex Braae goes to a Lincoln debate
Right now on thespinoff.co.nz (i.e. the site you’re already on), The Bulletin’s Alex Braae has been continuing his trek around the country in a Jucy van.
This week, he’s been in Lincoln, where he covered a fiery debate in a seat being relinquished by long-serving National MP Amy Adams.
12.20pm: Labour’s fiscal plan has few surprises
Political editor Justin Giovannetti reports:
Labour has released a fiscal plan for the coming years with few surprises, only hours after National leader Judith Collins attacked the party for its lack of a spending document during the campaign.
Unsurprisingly, Labour’s plan is built around the government’s budget and the recently released pre-election economic and fiscal update.
The plan adds the party’s signature tax promise, a new tax rate of 39% on incomes above $180,000, along with new spending that averages about $1 billion annually.
The party is drawing down on the $14 billion in unspent Covid-19 contingency money to pay for new training allowances and business funding.
The party has also attached a graph at the end of its plan showing how much the debt wouldn’t grow if the remaining $12 billion is never spent.
Apart from an egregious typo, the graph is another strong indication from Labour that it might choose to never borrow the money unless the Covid-19 crisis deepens.
National has struggled with a number of errors in its fiscal plan, admitting to a $4 billion hole. Additional errors could increase the size of the hole to $10 billion, but the party has rejected the newer issues raised with its plan.
12.05pm: Labour would review supermarket prices
Labour wants to make sure you’re not being ripped off at the supermarket. Two new market studies are in the pipeline, should the party return to government later this month.
It’s promised to ensure New Zealanders are paying a fair price for groceries and building supplies, as the economy recovers from Covid-19.
“Groceries are one of our most regular expenses, and buying or renovating a home is the biggest investment many of us will make in our lifetime, so we want to make sure pricing is fair,” party leader Jacinda Ardern announced.
Ardern said the party, while in government, had already initiated a successful market study, that she claimed led to lower petrol prices for consumers.
“While we focus on keeping people in jobs, and retraining and upskilling to get our economy moving, we want to ensure the cost of living in New Zealand is fair and these market studies have the potential to help, by providing us the information we need to act,” she said.
Labour’s consumer affairs spokesperson Kris Faafoi said there is a “growing belief” that New Zealand is becoming less affordable.
“The information collected from these market studies will allow us to put in place any necessary regulatory and policy solutions that ensure consumers are paying a fair price, that innovation in the market is not stifled, and that access and competition are appropriate,” Faafoi said.
12.00pm: National promises to pump $600m into water storage
National would invest $600 million into developing a long term plan for water storage, if elected next month.
The party’s unveiled its water storage policy this morning, which includes a promise to guarantee common ownership of water for all New Zealanders.
“Done correctly, water storage can be equal parts beneficial to the environment, economy and community,” leader Judith Collins said in a statement.
“National will support local government to develop the three waters infrastructure, which will include clean water infrastructure and storage. The new National Infrastructure Bank will be able to provide professional advice and finance models to enable the delivery of vital new infrastructure.”
The recent water crisis in Auckland highlighted the need for more to be done around water storage, Collins said.
11.30am: Ministry of Health briefing returns after hiatus
The Ministry of Health will be giving an in-person media briefing today, although Ashley Bloomfield will not be fronting it.
The 1pm briefing will be given by director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay.
As usual, we’ll have the livestream and coverage of the briefing from 1pm today.
10.30am: Goldsmith defends proposed tax cut policy
Paul Goldsmith’s promised he would develop an economy that creates jobs, if he is in the position of finance minister after the next election. The National MP and party finance spokesperson has had a tough time on the campaign trail, with allegations of an ever-growing fiscal hole following him.
“The critical thing is to have an economy that’s creating jobs,” Goldsmith told RNZ in a wide-ranging interview morning. “What you don’t want to be doing is adding cost, so what we’re seeing at the moment is the government is carrying on as though we’re in boom times … when a business is struggling to stay afloat.”
Questioned on why his party’s tax cut policy – a temporary, 16-month measure – would bring the most benefit to middle and upper income earners, Goldsmith said it was about providing short term stimulus.
“The forgotten middle of New Zealand… they deserve some of their money back in their hands,” Goldsmith said.
“It’s to provide a short term boost to an economy that’s shrinking… these are extraordinary times. What we’re seeing is incredible pressure on the economy.”
Goldsmith rejected claims that the tax policy was targeted at the highest earners, despite them benefitting the most from the plan.
Questioned on reports of a third error in his party’s fiscal plan, Goldsmith said he continued to reject that, but has taken responsibility and corrected earlier mistakes.
On the campaign trail
Here’s where our political leaders are today:
- Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern has headed south today, visiting Nelson for a tour of Pics Peanut Butter and later a policy announcement.
- National Party leader Judith Collins has headed north today, visiting Kerikeri for a walkabout (starting at the luxurious Kerikeri Pagani store) before later making an infrastructure policy announcement and then heading to Whangārei.
- New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in Auckland today but appears to have no scheduled events.
- Act Party leader David Seymour is attending the North Harbour Business Association lunch and later launching Act’s SME policy in Avondale.
- Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is in Tāmaki Makaurau today, attending the Save Our Trees Rally at Aotea Square. James Shaw is in Wellington Central, before later making a Green Party tech announcement.
8.20am: Advance NZ argues it should be included in Newshub debate
Former National MP Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika have argued in court that their party Advance NZ should be allowed to participate in an upcoming Newshub debate.
The “Powerbrokers” debate is expected to showcase parties that could possibly wield the power to form a government on election night. Currently, it’s going to include the Greens, Act, New Zealand First and the Māori Party.
As RNZ reports, the lawyers for Advance NZ argued the party could also be in that position.
“They are polling similarly to the Māori Party and New Zealand First, with just as much chance of winning an electorate … they have a leader with governance experience and is presently in Parliament,” Honor Lanham told the court.
“Advance NZ has more than 43,000 people following its Facebook page … that can be contrasted to five other parties … but more than that, when you look at specific types of social media content and the responses that have been received to them, we can see Advance NZ has had incredibly popular video content online. Some of their videos have been viewed over 256,000 times,” she told the court.
MediaWorks’ lawyer Justin Graham, emphasised that the debate is not intended to be a minor party leaders’ debate. The flood gates would open, he said, if Advance NZ was allowed to participate.
“We would undoubtedly have requests for attendance from parties such as the New Conservatives and The Opportunities Parties, who have had superior polling results to Advance NZ,” he said.
A decision in the case is expected to be released later today.
7.50am: Collins says second debate was ‘lively’, won’t say who won
National’s leader Judith Collins wouldn’t go so far as to say she won last night’s debate, but told Newstalk ZB she “thinks she did well”. However, she’s admitted to making up policy on the fly during proceedings.
Last night was the second of three televised leaders’ debates before the October 17 election, this time hosted by Newshub.
Questioned by Mike Hosking over whether she had made up any policies on the spot, Collins laughed and admitted “you have to make decisions”. Collins said she had not expected to be asked about a review of Pharmac, but both her and Jacinda Ardern committed to one if elected.
“I think with a view to making sure that people understand what the processes are that Pharmac goes through but also making sure that Pharmac is held to account,” she said.
A review into Pharmac was pledged by the Act Party earlier in the day, with leader David Seymour praising the commitment by both Ardern and Collins.
Similarly, a decision to call back money from the wage subsidy if corporations twisted the rules was “a big call”, Collins said. “The rules were pathetic… [and] there is a moral duty if people have taken all that money, and they don’t need it… they should pay it back.”
Overall, this debate was more “lively”, Collins said, than the first debate and she thought Ardern had “a bit more energy”.
“My phone was buzzing all night with people saying I did well,” Collins said.
Two weeks away from election day, Collins said she expected the result to be “close as anything” and said people she’s meeting every day are “feeling positive and enthusiastic”.
7.40am: Top stories from The Bulletin
The East Coast is going to be a fascinating electorate to watch on the night, and could get very close. Through Local Democracy Reporter Charlotte Jones, the Rotorua Daily Post has reported on an internal Labour poll which puts their candidate (Kiri Allan) ahead of National’s candidate for the first time in more than a decade. Allan is a sitting MP, and said she had done the “hard yards” to win people over through the last three years.
Or maybe the poll was dodgy? That’s what National’s campaign chair Gerry Brownlee maybe alleged, maybe was just asking questions about, in a furious press release about whether it was a ‘push-poll’. That’s where respondents are asked questions in a certain way to lead them towards a favourable outcome for the pollsters. As Justin Giovannetti reports, Labour reacted to that with fury, releasing material around the poll that “shows clearly that the questions are standard for surveys of this type,” Labour campaign manager Hayden Munro said in a statement. Even so, polling electorate seats is difficult, and so it’s clearly all on.
Anne Tolley is retiring from the seat, and National are being represented by popular Rotorua District Councillor Tania Tapsell, who I interviewed earlier in the year. As a new candidate, she has a low list placing, so absolutely has to win the seat to get in. The whole electorate is fascinating, in part because the three leading candidates are all wāhine Māori. Some might also argue that the electorate is also unusual for having three genuinely impressive candidates, but we won’t go there. The Gisborne Herald reported on a debate held between Allan, Tapsell and Meredith Akuhata-Brown of the Greens, a sitting Gisborne District Councillor.
7.30am: Yesterday’s key stories
Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins faced off in the second leaders’ debate.
Donald Trump talked over Joe Biden a lot in the first presidential leaders’ debate.
RNZ and Stuff are challenging the name suppression in the NZ First Foundation donations case.
For the fifth day in a row there are no new community cases of Covid-19 to report.
There was one new case of Covid-19 in managed isolation.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.