Toby Morris

Election Live, August 9: 100-day Covid milestone; Greens release housing policy; hellish poll for NZ First

Welcome to Election Live for August 9, 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

6.15pm: The day in sum

New Zealand hit a milestone of 100 days without any community spread of Covid-19.

The Green Party launched its housing policy, with a scaling up of Kāinga Ora’s building programme at its core.

A poll for Q+A put Shane Jones at a distant third in the race for Northland, putting the New Zealand First’s hopes of returning to parliament in even greater peril.

Michael Baker called for a day of mass mask wearing in New Zealand.

6.05pm: National selects Megan Hands in Rangitata

The National Party has chosen Environment Canterbury councillor Megan Hands as its new Rangitata candidate. Hands was chosen this afternoon to fill the vacancy left by Andrew Falloon, who resigned last month after sending unsolicited pornographic images.

“We only have a short time until the election, so I’ll be working extremely hard to make sure Rangitata has strong National representation in Wellington and gives National the all-important Party Vote,” said Hands in a statement.

In 2017, Falloon won by more than 6,000 votes over the Labour candidate Jo Luxton. 

Megan Hands. Photo: supplied

“With a strong primary sector base, Rangitata is well placed to help lead a post-Covid economic recovery. National recognises this and has already committed to build a four-lane expressway from Ashburton to Christchurch, including a second bridge over the Ashburton River,” said Hands.

It is safe to assume that Hands counts among her greatest achievements contributing to The Spinoff.

2.00pm: Green Party unveils housing policy

The Green Party has released its housing policy, in the form of a “Homes for All Plan”, which it says will “lay the foundations of an Aotearoa where everyone has a warm, dry and affordable home”. The centrepiece of the policy would see Kāinga Ora’s borrowing limit lifted from $7.1 billion to $12 billion over five years to build 5,000 new homes a year.

The party is pledging to:

  • Scale up the provision of affordable new rental properties under the Kāinga Ora Crown building programme to clear the public housing waiting list in the next five years.
  • Focus on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and community-driven housing redevelopment.
  • Expand progressive home ownership options like rent-to-own.
  • Reform the Building Code.
    Extend Warmer Kiwi Homes subsidies and a two-year Covid-19 recovery economic stimulus subsidy for extra energy efficiency initiatives.
  • Review the Accommodation Supplement and Income Related Rent Subsidy to better serve renters and public housing providers.
  • Improve Healthy Homes Standards to create a thorough Warrant of Fitness for rental homes.
  • A new registration system for landlords and licensing of property managers.
  • Enhanced standards of for tertiary student accommodation.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said in a speech: “Housing is a human right. We all deserve to live in a warm, dry home where we can put down roots and participate in our communities … Successive governments have sold off too much social and community housing, while letting the homes we do have fall into disrepair.”

1.45pm: 394 new cases in Victoria

With Melbourne and much of the state in Victoria now in lockdown and curfew, the numbers, while still troubling, are at least heading in the right direction. Today 394 new have been reported in the state, said Premier Daniel Andrews in a briefing. There are more deaths overnight. Andrews thanked the Victorians who were following the rules, adding: “For those who aren’t, you’ve just got to make better decisions … You’ve got to follow these rules. They are central to this strategy working and getting to the other side of this second wave.”

1.00pm: 100 days of zero Covid spread in the NZ community

It is now 100 days since Covid-19 has been at large in New Zealand, or in the more precise language of the Ministry of Health, “since the last case of Covid-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source”.

There remain 23 cases in managed isolation facilities and New Zealand overall number of Covid cases remains at 1,219. New Zealand recorded its first case of Covid-19 more than five months ago, on February 28.

The total number of recorded cases around the world, according to Johns Hopkins data, is now just shy of 20 million. There have been 723,854 deaths worldwide, almost a quarter of those in the US. In New Zealand, 22 people have died with Covid-19.

Labs processed 4,249 tests yesterday, according to the Ministry of Health media release. That brings the total number of tests completed to date to 494,481. There were 542 swabs taken in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

Pop-up testing centres “continue to be well-attended, with very encouraging numbers of people coming forward”. On Friday 133 people were swabbed over two hours at New World supermarket in New Plymouth. Yesterday in Manurewa, 153 people were tested, and 326 people took tests at the pop-up clinic in Christchurch.

“Achieving 100 days without community transmission is a significant milestone. However, as we all know, we can’t afford to be complacent,” said Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health, in a statement.

“We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand. Every person in the team of five million has a role to play in this. Seek advice from your GP or Healthline on getting a test if you have symptoms of Covid-19 and stay at home if you are unwell. Keep a record of your movements so you can refer to them for contact tracing if required.”

11.55am: Baker calls for a Day of the Masks

Today – touch wood – New Zealand will mark 100 days without Covid-19 in the community. (We’ll have the latest from the Ministry of Health here as soon as they issue the daily release, expected around 1pm.) Speaking to Jim Mora on RNZ this morning, the public health expert Michael Baker suggested a mask day – in which New Zealanders all wear masks to work, as a trial run for a time when Covid might spring up in the community.

Baker reiterated his argument for an inquiry into the response, and support for a specialised agency to respond to public health emergencies. He also addressed the “Covid long-hauler” question.

“A lot of people, young people in particular, have very mild symptoms. There’s some studies suggesting that at least 10% have what’s called this long Covid syndrome, where people were sick for months, it seems, and were fatigued and had trouble concentrating. And I think over time we’ll learn more about this group.” It reinforced, he said, “how important it is to try to keep this virus out of New Zealand.”

Read one 26-year-old New Zealander’s personal account of suffering Covid symptoms for close to five months here.

10.00am: The unicorn has landed

Yaks have a rival for novelty creature of the 2020 election: unicorns.

In an ad that may very well be a 10-dimensional chess move by the social media expert gurus of the “Bad Boys of Brexit”, NZ First collaged the Green co-leaders alongside a unicorn and raining cash.

Green Party supporters enthusiastically shared the supposed attack ad when it emerged at the end of last month. And now they’ve gone one step further:

9.05am: Shane Jones a distant third in Northland poll

A Colmar Brunton poll for Q+A delivers dreadful news for Shane Jones and NZ First. With the party sitting around 2% in polls, a win in Northland, an area that has been a key focus of the NZ First driven Provincial Growth Fund, was a potential lifeline. But this poll suggests he’s barely in the race.

Matt King, National: 46%

Willow-Jean Prime, Labour: 31%

Shane Jones, NZ First: 15%

The Greens’ candidate is on 3%, the New Conservatives’ on 2%, and Act’s 1%.

In 2017, Matt King won 38% of the vote, NZ First’s candidate Winston Peters took 35%, and Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime took 22%.

Here’s the party vote, with 2017 election results in brackets.

Labour: 41% (30%)

National: 38% (46%)

Act: 8% (0.5%)

NZ First: 7% (13%)

Green Party: 4.7% (6%)

New Conservatives: 1.9% (0.5%)

Shane Jones was a no-show on Q+A. “He committed to the interview … but late last night he pulled out”, announced Jack Tame on this morning’s programme.

For more on the poll of 503 voters, see here.

7.15am: Labour tax policy coming soon

Buried at the bottom of our write-up of the Jacinda Ardern Show this morning is a mini-scoop: Labour will announce its tax policy in the coming week. Tax has proven a glass jaw for Labour in recent elections, from John Key’s “show me the money” ambush onwards. Don’t expect a change of mind on capital gains tax, or anything dramatic: the last thing Labour will want to do is spend the next five weeks debating tax.

Read the full piece on the Labour campaign launch here.

7.00am: A big morning for New Zealand First

Pundits across the country go to bed every night with the cliche “write Winston Peters off at your peril” ringing in their ears, and yet this is also true: the last three public polls put New Zealand First on 2%, 2%, and 1.5%. That means this morning’s Colmar Brunton poll of Northland voters, to be revealed on Q+A, is a very big deal.

If New Zealand First’s Shane Jones is within cooee of, or even leading, the National incumbent, Matt King, it would deliver a major morale boost to Winston Peters’ party. Anyone wondering whether their vote might be wasted if given to NZ First would be reassured that it would count. Conversely, if there is clear air between King – who has hardly built a reputation as a beloved Northland MP – and Jones, the bell will start tolling.

Q+A airs at 9am on TVNZ 1.

6.30am: Yesterday’s key stories

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.

Read yesterday’s Election Live here



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