Election Live, August 8: Labour launches campaign; National unveils party list

Welcome to Election Live for August 8, bringing you the latest on election 2020 and other breaking news. For key dates in the election season click here. For all you need to know about the cannabis referendum click here. For the assisted dying referendum click here. Policy launching soon. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz or info@thespinoff.co.nz

6.15pm: The day in sum

Labour launched its official election campaign in Auckland, announcing a new jobs policy at the same time.

National revealed its party list for next month’s election.

There were no new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

Former National leader Todd Muller opened up about his anxiety in his first full interview since stepping down.

Victoria reported 466 new cases of Covid-19, and 12 deaths, including a man in his 30s.

4.45pm: 466 new Covid-19 cases and 12 deaths in Victoria

A man in his 30s is among 12 people who have died from Covid-19 in Australia’s state of Victoria in the past 24 hours, as authorities recorded 466 new infections.

Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said six of the deaths were linked to aged care facilities, reports RNZ via ABC. Two men in their 70s, two men and three women in their 80s, and four women in their 90s have also died with the virus. Andrews said the man in his 30s was not a healthcare worker, but could not provide more information about the case.

4.00pm: National unveils party list

National has revealed its party list for the election, with new candidate Nancy Lu at number 26, higher than more than a dozen incumbents.

The lowest-ranked sitting MP is Jo Hayes at 44, while Alfred Ngaro, who at the last election was ranked 20, has fallen 10 spots to 30 – which means he will probably have to beat Labour’s Phil Twyford in Te Atatū to return to parliament.

Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis – who were both ranked in the 40s in 2017 – have risen to number seven and 13 respectively, and Maureen Pugh has been elevated to 19.

The most recent poll, the One News Colmar Brunton, put National at 32%, which would allocate the party 41 seats in parliament, compared to the 56 it currently holds.

Former Air New Zealand boss Christopher Luxon, who is standing in Botany against former National MP and now independent Jami-Lee Ross, is one of the lowest on the list at 61.

National leader Judith Collins was typically bullish about the party’s chances at the press confidence announcing the list. “We’re very confident of keeping our existing MPs,” Collins said in response to a question about the risk of losing experienced MPs with polling as it stands. “I think you’re thinking too negatively.”

She said she expected “quite a few” MPs to come in on the list and was not expecting to lose any electorates, saying, “We’re going to add some. We’re very confident of our campaign.”

The top 20 on the list, and the electorates they’re standing in, are as follows:

1 Judith Collins Papakura
2 Gerry Brownlee Ilam
3 Paul Goldsmith Epsom
4 Simon Bridges Tauranga
5 Dr Shane Reti Whangārei
6 Todd McClay Rotorua
7 Chris Bishop Hutt South
8 Todd Muller Bay of Plenty
9 Louise Upston Taupō
10 Scott Simpson Coromandel
11 David Bennett Hamilton East
12 Michael Woodhouse Dunedin
13 Nicola Willis Wellington Central
14 Jacqui Dean Waitaki
15 Mark Mitchell Whangaparāoa
16 Melissa Lee Mt Albert
17 Andrew Bayly Port Waikato
18 Dr Nick Smith Nelson
19 Maureen Pugh West Coast-Tasman
20 Barbara Kuriger Taranaki-King Country

2.30pm: Winston boards his campaign bus

While the prime minister launched Labour’s re-election campaign today, deputy PM Winston Peters boarded his New Zealand First campaign bus to begin a four-week electioneering tour around the country. NZ First officially launched its campaign in July but today, its leader set off on in his “Back your future”-branded bus, reports RNZ. Peters held a public meeting in Pukekohe in Auckland this morning and will be in Hamilton this afternoon.

1.40pm: ‘This is a Covid election’: Ardern launches Labour campaign 

Labour has launched its 2020 election campaign with prime minister Jacinda Ardern saying, “yes, this is a Covid election”.

Ardern is currently making a policy announcement aimed at struggling businesses and those out of work due to the effects of Covid-19.

Labour has pledged $311 million to expand the existing Flexi-wage scheme, a wage subsidy to help employers hire those on a benefit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. The average amount a business can access to hire an unemployed person is being doubled to $7,500, up to a maximum of $22,000, which Labour says will reach 40,000 New Zealanders. 

Of the $311 million, $30 million will be ring-fenced to support people to start a new business or help them become self-sufficient in an existing business. The Ministry of Social Development will receive $10 million in operational funding to administer the expanded programme.

Just over a week ago, National leader Judith Collins launched her party’s small business policy, which would allow people to access up to $20,000 from their KiwiSaver account to help set up a business, and at least $10,000 in tax credits to pay GST or provisional tax when the business starts making a profit. After Todd Muller became leader in late May, the party promised a $10,000 cash payment to businesses for each new full-time worker hired.

Announcing the policy today, Ardern said “as with all investments, there is a price tag… our cautious approach to future spending means we will be using the current underspend from the wage subsidy to pay for this programme, rather than drawing from the Covid Response Fund which we intend to preserve in case it’s needed to fight the virus again, or to reduce our level of debt.

“Keeping debt low is important to us, and we’ve shown that,” she continued. “But that need not be at the expense of health and education, and it shouldn’t mean leaving people behind.  And that is the difference between Labour and others.”

“And so, when people ask, is this a Covid election, my answer is yes, it is. 

“But that does not mean that there aren’t still choices to be made. It does not mean there aren’t ideas to be debated, or plans to be discussed, policies to be announced.”

At the start of her speech, Ardern reflected on the 2017 election campaign launch. “If you had told me then that our launch in 2020 would be in the midst of a global pandemic with our borders closed – I would have found that very hard to fathom,” she said. “If you’d told me that Clarke and I would have a toddler, I wouldn’t have believed we would have been so lucky.

“And if you’d told me that we would have just completed a term in government with both New Zealand First and the Greens, I’d assume you’d been watching excessive amounts of Stranger Things on Netflix. And yet here we are.”

She reflected on the March 15 terrorist attacks in Christchurch last year as well as the eruption of Whakaari/White Island, events that “drew out a sense of collective purpose, of determination, of kindness”, before going into how the government has responded to Covid-19. “There is no denying that Covid has changed New Zealand, and therefore it will inevitably change what we talk about this election.

“We have never wavered from the view that the best economic response was a strong health response. There are tough times ahead but the proof is in an economy up and running well before others.”

The speech concluded to rapturous applause and chants of “three more years”.

1.20pm: No new cases of Covid-19; Labour’s campaign launch under way in Auckland

Labour’s campaign launch is under way at the Auckland town hall. The event kicked off with a couple of songs by Tami Neilson and a rousing kapa haka performance. MC Oscar Kightley has run through a list of Labour’s achievements in government, and now Jacinda Ardern’s partner Clarke Gayford is speaking. His task was something like providing, he said, “a character reference for someone reapplying for a job”.

Gayford quipped about his home life with Ardern, saying, “I don’t know if you know what it’s like to try to have a disagreement with someone who has just been named the world’s most eloquent leader”, adding that in a desperate attempt to win an argument about the nappy bucket recently, “I announced three new roads and a tunnel”.

Meanwhile, for the third day in a row, there are no new cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today, the Ministry of Health has announced.

There are no new recovered cases to report, so there continue to be 23 active cases, all in managed isolation facilities. None of those people are receiving hospital-level care. The number of confirmed cases remains at 1,219.

Yesterday, laboratories processed 3,289 tests, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 490,232. There were 720 swabs taken in managed isolation and quarantine facilities yesterday.

10.30am: What can we expect from Labour’s campaign launch?

Three years ago, there were absolute scenes at the Auckland town hall when a newly resurgent Labour Party launched its election campaign. The Spinoff’s editor, Toby Manhire, was there – how does he reckon today’s launch will compare?

As Labour supporters gear up for the campaign launch at the Auckland town hall this lunchtime, comparisons to the August 2017 event at the same venue are inevitable. That was the “climate change is my generation’s nuclear free moment” speech. It was scene of that Helen Clark/Jacinda Ardern embrace. One hyperbolist called the mood “Beatlemaniaesque“.

This time the mood of renewal and promise of transformation is likely to give way to a pledge of steadiness and continuity amid a global crisis. Ardern herself said in an interview this morning that “this will predominantly be a Covid election”.

But one of the functions of a campaign launch is to rally the base. Fully expect Ardern to remind the supporters who will sit undistantly shoulder to shoulder that such a full town hall would be unthinkable today in most parts of the world.

10.15am: Braae-king news – the latest from the road

An update from roving reporter Alex Braae, who is touring the country in a Jucy van. This morning he’s at the Matamata country markets:

There’s only one politician at the Matamata markets this morning – New Conservative’s Waikato candidate Caleb Ansell. The message he’s pitching to voters in this deep blue part of the country is that his party is what they wished the National Party was. “National used to have the four Fs – family, farmers, freedom and fairness.”

Now Ansell says his party better represents all of those. He’s noticed a lot of people around here getting into the NZ Public Party led by Billy Te Kahika, but says the New Conservatives are still the fastest-growing party in the country, based on membership.

And what about the reception he’s been getting in Matamata? Ansell says the people he’s spoken to have been 90% positive, 10% unsure, and about 10% don’t like him at all. When it’s pointed out to him that adds up to 110%, he admits that he hadn’t yet had any coffee today.

New Conservative Waikato candidate Caleb Ansell campaigning in Matamata (Photo: Alex Braae)

8.45am: Muller on anxiety that ended his tenure as National leader

Former National leader Todd Muller has given his first full interview since he stepped down as National Party leader on July 14 after just 53 days in the job. Speaking to the the Bay of Plenty Times’ Kiri Gillespie, Muller says his time as leader provoked severe anxiety and panic attacks. “Where we got to was the accumulation of 53 days,” he says. “It was no singular moment. It was more like a drop, drop, drop, drop that virtually fills the bucket which overflows, as opposed to a single boot to the bucket.”

Yesterday Muller tweeted for the first time since stepping down, thanking those who sent supportive messages.

8.30am: The day ahead: Labour launching campaign, National releasing list

Labour is officially launching its campaign for the 2020 election at the Auckland town hall at lunchtime today. The Spinoff’s editor Toby Manhire and staff writer Josie Adams are heading along – stay tuned for their updates.

Timed to coincide with the campaign launch, the Herald has interviewed the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, and contrasts what’s set to be a “no-frills” campaign with the Jacindamania of three years ago. Stuff, meanwhile, has a podcast interview with the PM in which she hints at a border loosening for essential migrant workers. Newshub Nation has got Labour campaign manager Megan Woods on at 9.30am, plus Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick will be taking on National’s Nick Smith in a cannabis referendum debate.

Meanwhile, National’s rejigged list ranking will land around 3.30pm, and we’ll bring you the details here.

8.00am: Yesterday’s key stories

The National Party pledged $20m towards protecting women from gynaecological cancer.

The party’s deputy leader, Gerry Brownlee, questioned the timing of new mask advice.

The Bulletin’s Alex Braae explained the mysterious lack of Labour hoardings in the Waikato.

There were no new cases of Covid-19.

The Ministry of Health announced numerous pop-up testing clinics nationwide for this weekend.

Work started on the third main line of Auckland’s rail network.

Read yesterday’s Election Live here



The Spinoff is made possible by the generous support of the following organisations.
Please help us by supporting them.