Election Live, October 7: Covid-19 eliminated from community, ministry announces

Welcome to The Spinoff’s Election Live for October 7, 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 stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

7.45pm: The day in sum

New Zealand now has no active cases of Covid-19 in the community. Three new cases were recorded at the border.

Judith Collins went on a poorly received walkabout on Auckland’s Ponsonby Road.

The High Court threw out a claim by the New Conservative party to be included in Thursday night’s TVNZ multi-party debate.

Labour announced its long-term climate change policy. It was short on new initiatives, largely emphasising the work done by the government over the past three years.

Internationally, Facebook announced it was banning QAnon groups from both Facebook and Instagram, with immediate effect.

7.15pm: A nightmare on Ponsonby Road

After a hard fought debate last night, Judith Collins returned to Auckland for a Ponsonby walkabout this morning with local candidate Emma Mellow. Things didn’t quite go to plan:

“Not all stores invited her in. ‘We don’t want you here,’ a retail worker at an optometrist said, giving two thumbs down. A National staffer suggested it was the large media presence that put them off and nothing to do with politics. The store attendant later confirmed they were no fans of Collins.

“Arriving at Ponsonby Central, Collins sat down at a cafe table next to an M&M poll showing Labour far in the lead.”

Read Stewart Sowman-Lund’s full report here.

6.20pm: The third leaders’ debate in two and a half minutes

Missed last night’s fireworks? José Barbosa has compiled the highlights, including that instantly iconic “Don’t disrespect Sāmoa” moment.

3.05pm: New Conservatives barred from TVNZ debate

The High Court has thrown out a claim by the New Conservative party to be included in tomorrow night’s TVNZ multi-party debate.

As RNZ reports, TVNZ had ruled the party out of its debate as it is polling below its 3% threshold and has not been in parliament for the past two election cycles.

“TVNZ’s overarching desire in these debates is to be fair, reasonable and objective in deciding who is to participate and who isn’t,” the network’s lawyer said.

New Conservative leader Leighton Baker slammed the decision as unfair and incompatible with a healthy democracy.

2.40pm: Collins hits campaign trail after tough leaders’ debate

This morning I headed along to Judith Collins’ first campaign event after yesterday’s Press leaders’ debate in Christchurch.

Collins went for a walk along Ponsonby Road with the party’s Auckland Central candidate Emma Mellow.

It was an interesting affair, with many of the Auckland “locals” the National Party leader greeted instead being planted supporters invited for the walkabout. The subsequent press conference was a fiery 15-minutes largely dominated by internal party politics, as opposed to National policy.

I’ll have a full report for you shortly – so keep your eyes firmly glued to The Spinoff – but this tweet about sums up Judith Collins’ morning.

 

1.30pm: Labour announces long-term climate change policy

Labour’s announced plans to decarbonise the public transport bus fleet by 2035, phase out coal-fired boilers, if re-elected.

The climate change policy, announced this afternoon, largely emphasises the work done by the party in government over the past three years. Before the last election, Ardern said climate change was her generation’s “nuclear free moment”. Today, she’s pledged just $6 million toward agricultural climate change research programmes, in addition to the 15-year goal.

In a statement, Ardern said the policy builds on Labour’s “foundations” to address climate change put in during the first term.

“The next term will be focused on the practical steps New Zealand can take to reduce emissions and keep building on the foundations we have already put in place,” she said.

“Transport makes up about 20% of New Zealand’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions and is the fastest growing source. This needs to change so Labour will require that only zero emissions buses be purchased by 2025 and will target decarbonising the public transport bus fleet by 2035.”

The policy has landed with a thud among political journalists. Stuff’s Henry Cooke wrote on Twitter, “It’s the nuclear free moment of her generation, so here’s $6m for research, a ban already proposed by the government, and a goal for 15 years away.”

And Marc Daalder of Newsroom: “Labour is promising to reduce 1.9 percent of 20 percent of our emissions by 2035 and calls it climate action. Anyone else feeling gaslit?”

1.00pm: Covid-19 gone from community; Three new imported cases

On the final day of Auckland’s level two, the Ministry of Health has confirmed there are no active cases of Covid-19 linked to the community.

There are three new imported cases today in managed isolation, with 37 active cases in total – all from overseas.

The first two cases reported today arrived from Ethiopia via Dubai on September 23. They have been in managed isolation at the Ibis in Hamilton and tested positive at routine testing around day 12 of their stay.

The third case reported today arrived from Dubai on September 29. They have been staying in managed isolation at the Four Points Hotel and have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility upon returning a positive test result.

Our total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is 1,505, the ministry said.

Nine previously reported cases are now considered to have recovered, which include the six remaining active cases from the recent community outbreak.

The Auckland August cluster will officially close when there have been no new cases for two incubation periods from when all cases complete isolation.

One person remains on a ward in Middlemore hospital with Covid-19 today.

Yesterday, 5,334 tests were processed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 990,973.

Minister of Health acknowledges zero community cases

Chris Hipkins has called the stamping out of Covid-19 in the community a “big milestone”, in a press release sent out following the 1pm update.

“New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus,” Hipkins said. “The systems that have been developed and strengthened since our first wave of Covid-19 have worked very effectively to chase down the virus, isolate it, and eliminate it.”

Hipkins reminded New Zealanders to remain vigilant, despite today’s milestone. “It’s really good news, but as always we cannot sit back,” he said.

10.10am: Facebook takes aim at QAnon groups

Social media giant Facebook has announced it’s banning all QAnon accounts from the website.

It’s an escalation of its previous policy update earlier this year, which removed only QAnon accounts that discussed violence.

A company spokesperson said the enforcement will “bring to parity what we’ve been doing on other pieces of policy with regard to militarized social movements,” such as militia and terror groups that repeatedly call for violence.

“Starting today, we will remove Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts for representing QAnon. We’re starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks.”

On the campaign trail

Here’s where our political leaders are today:

  • Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern is in Dunedin, visiting United Machinists, walking about in the Octagon, and speaking at Otago University.
  • National Party leader Judith Collins is in Auckland, going for a wee stroll down Ponsonby Road.
  • New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is probably lurking around Auckland, although I cannot confirm nor deny this.
  • Act Party leader David Seymour is in Auckland for a meet the candidates event in Parnell this evening.
  • Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is in Dunedin for the day. James Shaw has no events today.

8.30am: Facebook, Twitter, censor Trump’s false Covid claim

President Trump has overnight made claims on social media that more people die from the flu than Covid-19.

The president, who returned to the White House yesterday despite still being infectious with the virus, also argued that the US should learn to live with Covid-19.

The tweet was hidden by Twitter and a similar message was deleted by Facebook.

According to US political publication The Hill, “over 209,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 this year, more than in the past five flu seasons combined.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s doctor Sean Conley said he met with the president today. “He had a restful first night at home, and today he reports no symptoms,” Conley said in a memo.

7.45am: Both parties claim win after fiery Press debate

The third leaders’ debate last night saw a fiery clash between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins – but neither were willing to claim a victory.

Their parties, however, both took to social media to proclaim a win – both parties saying their leader “smashed it”.

After the debate, Ardern said Labour has “real momentum” but that she wouldn’t declare a winner. “That’s ultimately for the viewers to decide,” Ardern said.

Collins said they both did well, but “politics” won on the night.

Collins denies spreading misinformation

This morning on RNZ, Collins possibly mistook host Susie Ferguson for Ardern, tackling her with all the vigour of last night’s debate.

Collins was questioned on her claim during the debate that Sāmoa had closed its border “much earlier” than New Zealand. In truth, it was a day later.

“I was very clear about what happened… they put travel restrictions on much earlier than New Zealand,” Collins said.

Susie Ferguson asked Collins about her claim that National had been calling for border closures here ahead of the government’s announcement. In reality, it was just two hours before the official announcement.

“We did call for it earlier,” Collins said. “We did ask for it earlier, we were asking questions about it.”

Collins denied that National had asked for the borders to be opened, despite very clear evidence to the contrary. 

7.40am: Top stories from The Bulletin

For the National party, yesterday was one of those campaign days which aren’t at all pleasant. Issues of disunity once again came to the fore. The one from yesterday was cleaned up somewhat – MP Denise Lee told Newshub that she now backed the Auckland policy which she had previously criticised in an internal email, which was leaked. Lee said those comments were only ever meant to stay internal, that she fully supported Collins as leader, and she disagreed with the leaker’s actions. That leaker also spoke to Newshub, and I’ll quote a pertinent line.

Lee wasn’t the only MP upset by it; another National MP contacted Newshub on Monday to say Collins is consistently “making up policy on the hoof” and “creating division” within the party.

Now we don’t exactly know who the leaker was. But departing MP and former deputy leader Paula Bennett had a very busy day on twitter, in particular getting into spats with former staffer and lobbyist Matthew Hooton, who served under Todd Muller. In our live updates, Toby Manhire recapped what went down, with Hooton firing a shot over a lack of campaign preparation “When Nats’ deputy leadership changed in May” – in other words, when Bennett was in the job. She in turn shot back by saying Hooton was trying to “deflect from your utter disaster.”

Is it a wider issue? Politics is often pretty opaque, so it’s hard to be sure. But Stuff reported yesterday that “another MP confirmed there was a group within the party feeling disaffected,” with that MP joining another in speaking off the record. Radio NZ reported meanwhile that Collins would not commit to telling MPs before she makes policy, on the grounds that she thought it was better for the party to have decisive leadership, rather than leadership by committee. Some in her caucus may of course disagree with that. All in all, it’ll be fascinating to see what gets revealed to the public after the election campaign, regardless of the eventual outcome.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

Yesterday’s headlines

Judith Collins and Jacinda Ardern faced off again, in the Press leaders’ debate.

Donald Trump left hospital and returned to the White House.

There were three new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation.

Labour joined the Greens yesterday as just the second party to promise to ban the practice of conversion therapy.



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