Election Live, October 13: Jacindamania at Victoria Uni; one new case of Covid-19

Welcome to The Spinoff’s Election Live for October 13, bringing you the latest on election 2020 and other NZ news. The essential campaign dates are hereFor 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

7.20pm: The day in sum

There was one new case of Covid-19 at the border.

Chris Baillie, the number four candidate on Act’s list – making him all but guaranteed entry into parliament this election – is an active and vocal climate change denier, The Spinoff reported.

Labour finally released its long-awaited policy manifesto, laying out its plans for New Zealand should it be re-elected.

Almost half the total number of people who voted in the 2017 election have already voted, according to the latest advance voting numbers.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern pulled a big crowd for a speech at Victoria University in Wellington.

Media outlets sought to appeal a court decision preventing them from reporting the names of two people charged over donations to the New Zealand First Foundation.

6.25pm: José Barbosa ranks the party ads of the 2020 election

Which party included the most basketball puns? Which leader stared longest without blinking? And which party wins on the basis of good manners alone? All is revealed below.

5.15pm: Whither Kiwibuild? Act attacks Labour’s missing policy

It was the flagship policy of Labour’s 2017 election campaign, but three years later the troubled Kiwibuild scheme has been quietly dropped from Labour’s election manifesto. While a link in the housing section of the manifesto directs to a web page that mentions Kiwibuild, there is no explicit mention of the under-performing housing programme in any of the document’s 29 pages.

The disappearance has not escaped the notice of Act leader David Seymour. “Just four days out from the election, Labour has finally released its policy manifesto. After saying it would persevere with KiwiBuild, it fails to mention the programme once. This is the ultimate proof that policies for Jacinda Ardern are just marketing tools, or props on the stage of her political theatre,” he said.

“Last election, Labour promised 16,000 houses over three years. It’s delivered just 602. That’s not even four percent of what they promised. It’s simply pathetic… This is one of the worst public policy failures New Zealand has seen. It’s no wonder Labour wants to erase all reference to it.”

A Labour spokesperson said the Kiwibuild policy has not been dropped, noting that Ardern continues to talk about it on the stump.

3.30pm: Labour drops long-awaited manifesto

Just four days out from election day, Labour has released its long-awaited policy manifesto, laying out its plans for New Zealand should it be re-elected.

Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 dominates the 30-page document, topping the list of policy announcements.

“Together we have set ourselves up for a strong recovery. A recovery that keeps New Zealand safe and drives our economy. That will continue to be the top priority for Labour in government,” the document reads.

The manifesto is laden with smiling pictures of Jacinda Ardern alongside members of the public and fellow MPs, along with one shot that appears to mainly consist of political reporter Audrey Young’s hair.

After Ardern, Audrey Young’s hair is one of the most prominent features of the manifesto (Image : Labour)

On The Spinoff: Future Act MP held ‘climate hysteria skeptics’ meetings at high school

A bit of selfless self-promotion – an article of mine published this morning.

Here’s an excerpt:

A Nelson-based candidate for the Act Party, who’s all but certain to be in parliament after the election, rallied against the local council for its position on “so-called ‘climate change’”, convened “Climate Hysteria Skeptics” meetings at the high school where he teaches, and attacked activist Greta Thunberg as “a Swedish girl with Aspergers and well known mental health issues”.

Chris Baillie is number four on Act’s list and standing for the party in the Nelson electorate. His online bio says he has a strong interest in sport and music, is a former policeman and a full-time secondary school teacher. David Seymour is quoted as saying Baillie would bring common sense to parliament.

But former students who attended Nayland College, the school Baillie teaches at, have spoken out about meetings he used to run where he would, they said, push back against the scientific consensus on climate change and claim climate hysteria was contributing to New Zealand’s youth suicide rate.

Read the full piece here. And, if you know more, get in touch: stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

2.40pm: Media outlets appeal NZ First Foundation name suppression

Media outlets are seeking to appeal a court decision stopping reporting of the names of two people charged over donations to the New Zealand First Foundation.

The Serious Fraud Office charged the pair – not MPs or current members of the New Zealand First party – with obtaining by deception.

Last week, RNZ, Stuff, NZME and TVNZ challenged an interim name suppression order protecting the identities of the accused in the case. As RNZ reports, Judge Peter Winter ruled in favour of the defendants, keeping their names a secret.

In his decision, he said the publication of one of the defendant’s names would result in them being “unfairly vilified” in the minds of potential jurors at any criminal trial.

Both accused were allowed to keep name suppression until their first official court appearance on October 29 – 12 days after the general election.

However, media lawyer Robert Stewart has argued there is compelling public interest to learn the names of the pair before this date, filing an urgent notice of appeal to the High Court.

It’s expected that appeal will be heard tomorrow, in an attempt to have the details of the accused duo released before polling day.

2.00pm: Advance voting numbers top 2017 with four days to go

Almost half of the number of total people who voted in the 2017 election have already voted, according to the latest advance voting numbers.

The Electoral Commission’s reporting that just shy of 1.3 million people have headed to the polls since early voting opened. Last election, 2.63 million people cast a vote overall.

The latest figures show that more advance votes have already been cast than the entire early voting period from 2017. About 1.24 million people cast an advance vote in 2017, and a mere 717,000 in 2014, compared to 1.28 who had voted as of yesterday.

(Image : Electoral Commission)

All the latest data is available here.

1.35pm: Battle for Auckland Central still heating up

Auckland Central is looking to be one of the toughest electorate races this election – and it shows no signs of slowing down before Saturday.

Labour’s Helen White is pulling out all the stops to win the seat from National, including recruiting her siblings to hand deliver flyers.

A flyer from Helen White (Image : Supplied)

The flyer war isn’t a one sided battle, though. Green candidate Chloe Swarbrick has also been pulling in support to help put pen to paper.

Meanwhile, on The Spinoff right this very moment, you can read an excellent piece by our political editor Justin Giovannetti explaining how the battle for Auckland Central could be splitting the left vote. Check that out here.

1.15pm: Jacinda-mania in action – huge crowds at Vic Uni

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is continuing to pull massive crowds in the final days before polls close.

Ardern is speaking at Victoria University in Wellington, after earlier meeting locals at Queensgate shopping centre in Lower Hutt.

The Spinoff’s political editor Justin Giovannetti is on the campaign trail with Ardern today and sent through this photo, showing the Labour leader surrounded by a sea of supporters.

Massive crowds listening to Jacinda Ardern speak (Photo : Justin Giovannetti)

The crowds aren’t entirely surprising – every Labour social media account was promoting Ardern’s visit, advertising the chance to meet her.

Before Ardern took to the stage, Green Party co-leader James Shaw worked the floor as some sort of opening act.

Ardern’s busy schedule of public speeches and walkabouts is in stark contrast to Judith Collins. The National leader has also been in the lower North Island today, campaigning with her local candidates Chris Bishop and Brett Hudson. No walkabouts are on the schedule, however, after a disastrous day in Ponsonby last week.

1.00pm: One new imported case of Covid-19

There’s one new imported case of Covid-19 today, the Ministry of Health has announced. The new case is an arrival from the United States, who landed in the country on October 8.

The person tested positive on day three of their stay in managed isolation in Christchurch. They are now in quarantine.

The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is now 1,516. There are 39 active cases, all imported, with no active community cases of Covid-19.

Yesterday our laboratories processed 3,017 tests, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,005,807.

On The Spinoff: Policy in two minutes

Having a hard time deciding who to vote for in this week’s election? The Spinoff’s done some of the work for you.

We’ve gone through the parties policy pledges, compiling them into easy wraps based on topics like transport, health and Te ao Māori. Read them all here and check out everything else you need to know at Policy.nz.

Happy voting!

12.00pm: Will Election 2020 ever end?

It’s been a very long election campaign, but it finally looks like we’re in the home stretch.

But has it come too late? The never-ending months of political turmoil and Covid-19 have taken their toll on all of us – including Mike Hosking.

11.40am: Peters rejects polls, speaks of Labour-Greens ‘nightmare’

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has continued to discredit the polls suggesting his party will be out of parliament after the next election. Recent polling has placed the party at about the 2% mark – well short of the required 5%.

“I have been to Warsaw. It is the capital of Poland. That’s where Poles live. That’s all I do when I talk about polls. All the rest is just ridiculous,” he told Newshub this morning.

“Can we get on with it rather than wasting our time with what I might call witchcraft that seems to accompany modern politics. It is of no value to anyone.”

Peters continued to advertise his party as an insurance policy on a government consisting of just Labour and the Greens. He said people have been telling him they’ve done the mathematics, and there’s no way that National and Act can make it.

“So we better get back and buy ourselves some guaranteed influence in the next government because we don’t want a Green and Labour nightmare… with a massive lurch to the left,” Peters said.

Peters said his party has a proven track record in government, citing the provincial growth fund as well as portfolios like foreign affairs.

Watch the full interview here

On the campaign trail

Here’s where our political leaders are today:

  • Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern is campaigning in the capital today, with a walkabout at Queensgate shopping centre in Lower Hutt, and, later, a speech at Victoria University.
  • National Party leader Judith Collins is in Ōhāriu and Ōtaki today, for a transport announcement and later a public meeting.
  • New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is in Tauranga today for a public meeting near Mount Maunganui, followed by a media stand-up and public walkabout.
  • Act Party leader David Seymour is campaigning in Matamata, Cambridge and Hamilton today, including some walkabouts and a public meeting.
  • Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is in Ōtara and Papatoetoe, and later attending the launch of the Green Library in Auckland.

Also today:

  • We’ll have the latest Covid-19 data at 1pm, as per usual, followed by advance voting figures at 2pm.

9.50am: More women running for parliament than last election

The number of women running for parliament in this year’s election is well above 2017, according to new data released today.

This Saturday’s election has 73 more women running than in the last – however the number of men overall is still much higher. There are 413 male candidates compared to 263 female, and one gender diverse/not specified.

Of the top eight parties, there are 136 women out of 379 candidates.

There are 677 candidates running in this years election across all parties.

8.00am: UK to introduce a new Covid-19 alert system

While New Zealand may be enjoying a string of community transmission-free days of Covid-19, here’s a timely reminder that the rest of the world is still fighting a pandemic.

The UK is set to bring in a tiered system of further restrictions to curb further acceleration in Covid-19 cases. The new system is an attempt to fix the UK government’s confusing patchwork of rules around the coronavirus.

As RNZ reports, the new lockdown rules will include shutting pubs and bars in areas placed in the “very high” alert level from Wednesday. The other alert levels in the new system are “medium” and “high”.

7.45am: Advance voting numbers to surge past last election’s

More people cast a vote on Saturday than on the day before the 2017 election, according to the Electoral Commission’s advance voting data.

Figures show 253,616 people headed to the polls on Saturday, just a nudge ahead of the 253,473 who voted in the 24 hours before the last election.

And the Commission’s now expecting that advance voting to surpass its target, with the Chief Electoral Officer telling Newshub it’s been going like “gangbusters”.

Alicia Wright said: “We have had a lot more polling places this election. It has been increasing in popularity. In 2017, we had nearly half of people vote in advance. We are seeing that increase this time as well and I suspect we will beat our advance voting numbers full stop by today or tomorrow.”

As of yesterday, more than 1.15 million people had already cast their ballot, just short of the total number of early votes in 2017 –1.24 million.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

The first Covid-19 vaccine purchase agreement has been made by the government. Radio NZ reports the agreement is for 1.5 million doses, which would theoretically cover half that number of people, and could be ready to roll out early next year – though that’s the most optimistic date. These particular vaccines come from Pfizer, though there are others currently in the works. The purchase is subject to clinical trials taking place successfully, and passing regulatory approval.

For more on the science behind this all, I’d highly encourage you to read this from the NZ Herald’s Jamie Morton. It goes into the different vaccine candidates which are currently being developed, and what other countries are doing. It also discusses how the vaccines actually work, and how different varieties act on the body in different ways. You might also enjoy going back and reading Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris on this topic several months ago.

The prospect of a vaccine has been quite a major talking point over the course of the election campaign. Politicians have routinely been asked to comment on when they believe a vaccine might be available, and what that means for their wider projections and assumptions. That’s because there are huge economic implications to a vaccine being available and widely taken up. A widely vaccinated population creates herd immunity against viruses (see also – measles vaccination rates dropping before the outbreak last year) which gives a much greater potential for avoiding lockdowns, and reopening the border.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

7.00am: Yesterday’s headlines

There were no new cases of Covid-19. There have been no active cases in the community since last week.

An agreement to purchase 1.5 million Covid-19 vaccines was signed by the government.

A new border exception to allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students into the country to continue their studies was announced by the government.

National has promised a PhD scholarship scheme worth up to $10 million for international candidates studying STEM subjects.

The Green Party has hit back at claims by Labour that a wealth tax is off the table if the two parties form a coalition after this weekend’s election.

More than a million votes have already been cast five days out from election day, according to the Electoral Commission.

Read yesterday’s Election Live here



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