Welcome to The Spinoff’s Election Live for October 14, 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
7.00pm: The day in sum
The latest advance voting figures showed 1.418 million people had done their civic duty.
An urgent court appeal to reveal the names of the two people charged in relation to the New Zealand First Foundation was dismissed.
National promised to establish a seniors commissioner if elected, and continued to argue a Labour-Greens government might introduce a wealth tax (despite Jacinda Ardern ruling it out).
There were two new cases of Covid-19 detected in managed isolation.
A leaked poll on the cannabis referendum suggested it’s likely to be a tight race.
6.55pm: Greens hold final rally of campaign
The Green Party has made its final bid to voters this evening on Auckland’s Karangahape Road, the heart of the Auckland Central electorate that Chlöe Swarbrick is vying for.
In their final rally of the campaign, Greens co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson highlighted the party’s track record on climate change and Covid-19, reports RNZ.
In her speech during the rally, Davidson said the Labour Party could not govern alone. “Unchallenged decisions can mean bad decisions, and with the Greens at the decision-making table, we’ll ensure that we truly face the challenges we’ve been ignoring for too long.”
Davidson said Covid-19 had illuminated inequalities in society and her party’s plan was grounded in building resilient communities. “The cracks revealed during Covid-19 will be revealed again, so we must fix these inequalities now.”
Following the rally, media asked the pair about National leader Judith Collins’ comment today that the Greens were “unemployable“. Shaw responded, “We wouldn’t work for Judith Collins no matter how much she paid us,” with Davidson adding, “That’s a desperate sign from a desperate party.”
4.00pm: Cannabis referendum poll suggests tight race
Green Party polling suggests the referendum on legalising cannabis is not going to pass – but it’s likely to be close. The internal poll, conducted between October 9-12 and seen by The Spinoff, asked people if the election was held tomorrow, how they would vote on the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. With three days to go until polls close, 1.418 million people have already voted in the general election and the two referendums.
3.30pm: Urgent appeal in NZ First Foundation donations case dismissed
An urgent court appeal to try and reveal the names of the two people charged in relation to the New Zealand First Foundation has been dismissed, RNZ reports.
It means the identities of the two individuals will likely not be known until a formal court date later in the month – well after the election.
RNZ, Stuff, NZME and TVNZ were all behind the appeal, arguing the public have a right to know who the two defendants are ahead of the election polls closing on Saturday night.
Politics podcast: The final countdown to election 2020
The Gone by Lunchtime team are back for the last time before polls close to assess the parties’ campaigns, select the seats they’ll be drooling over, and put their pundit reputations on the line by predicting the final election outcome.
2.00pm: Advance voting numbers continue to surge
The number of advance votes cast is now more than half the total from the 2017 election, according to the latest data from the Electoral Commission.
With three days to go until polls close, 1.418 million people have now voted – with just over 132,000 voting yesterday alone.
That’s 54% of the total turnout from the 2017 election.
If the current trajectory continues, we could see about 70% of votes cast ahead of election day.
In 2017, 1.24 million advance votes were cast, with just 717,579 in 2014.
All the latest data can be found here.
Attention: Are you a dog at a polling station?
Or, are you a voter who owns a dog and will be visiting a polling station? We want your photos!
The Spinoff’s election day live updates will be entirely photos of dogs outside polling booths, until the results start to roll in from 7pm.
Here’s a taster, sent in already.
We won’t be accepting any pictures of people, but we may permit other animals (solely at our discretion).
Send us your pics at firstname.lastname@example.org
1.00pm: Two new cases of Covid-19, in managed isolation
There are two new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation, the Ministry of Health has announced. There are no new cases in the community.
The first new case arrived on October 7 from Bangladesh, via Brisbane and Doha and the second case arrived on October 9 from London, via Dubai. Both were moved into managed isolation in Hamilton and tested positive as part of routine day three testing. They have now been transferred to Auckland’s quarantine facility.
It takes our total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 1,518, and with one additional recovered case, the total number of active cases is now 40 – all imported.
Yesterday, our laboratories processed 5,850 tests, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,011,657.
12.55pm: Ice cream poll shows Labour-Act coalition on cards
Last week an Auckland cafe’s M&M poll showed no path to power for National. Today, the ice cream fortune tellers would suggest Labour should be looking to Act to help prop up a future government.
Christchurch dessert parlour Rollickin’ has been running an election “poll” based on its politically-themed ice cream flavours. Jacinda Ardern today got a chance to taste her flavour – “Jacinda Fever” – which is well out in front, but with David “S’more” a close second.
12.40pm: Charges laid following incident at MIQ facility
A woman’s been arrested following an incident yesterday at a managed isolation facility in Auckland Central.
The 22-year-old is facing two charges of failing to comply with requirements for isolation and a single charge of failing to remain in isolation for a required period.
Police say one of the charges related to the incident from yesterday, while the other two charges are connected to separate incidents on October 8.
On The Spinoff: The bleakest article you will ever read
While you ponder the state of politics, spare a moment for our youngest representatives: members of youth wings.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with The Spinoff’s excellent series, now we have a de facto sequel. Reporter Josie Adams went along to Auckland University’s “Baby Backbenchers”, which saw four of the six Youth Wings stars pitted against each other.
It was bleak.
Here’s an excerpt:
Shadows is the University of Auckland student bar. [Moderator Sherry] Zhang described it as “pretty laddy” and it was, in fact, packed out with lads.
The yelling began less than a minute in. Artie Kouts, the representative from TOP, raised universal basic income (UBI) for the first time, in response to a question on student welfare. The crowd became incensed. “COMMUNIST,” they spat.
11.35am: Judith Collins asks if we are sheep
Just like how Gerry Brownlee likes to ask questions, Judith Collins has one of her own.
Sing the following to the tune of The Killers’ “Human”.
Rip-roaring speech from Judith today:
"Are we so pathetic. Are we sheep? Or are we people. I think we're people!"
— henry cooke (@henrycooke) October 13, 2020
10.40am: National launches seniors policy, Collins continues to raise fears about wealth tax
National’s promised to establish a “seniors commissioner”, if elected. It’s part of the party’s plan for senior citizens and retirees, that includes upping superannuation payments and – of course – ruling out any sort of wealth tax.
“Seniors deserve respect and recognition for the contribution they have made to New Zealand. It is their sacrifices and dedicated service that has made us the nation we are today,” leader Judith Collins said in a press release.
“Only a National government can commit to not introducing a wealth tax on retirees,” she said, despite Jacinda Ardern also committing not to introduce a wealth tax.
Earlier today, Collins continued to discuss the wealth tax, suggesting the Green Party might be able to push it through if Ardern was on leave from parliament.
“What if she’s for some reason not the prime minister, or she’s got an acting prime minister for a period of time – what’s going to happen if James Shaw is the acting prime minister? They don’t oppose it. You know that they absolutely want this,” Collins told Newshub.
The comments prompted barrister Graeme Edgeler to suggest Collins has no idea how government works.
10.15am: Collins agrees with Peters – screw the polls
The momentum behind Judith Collins looks to be faltering just three days out from polls closing. It follows a week of leaks, disastrous walkabouts, and low polling results. But Collins has told Stuff the polls are wrong and there’s still a path to the ninth floor of the Beehive.
Collins said the latest TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll, which showed National on just 32%, and a corporate poll from UMR, with the party on a dire 29%, did not match her internal polling or the feeling on the ground.
“It’s certainly different from what I’m seeing out there,” Collins told Stuff. “There’s an enormous amount of support for us.”
The polls didn’t accurately predict the results of the Brexit vote, the 2016 presidential election, or Scott Morrison’s win in Australia, Collins said.
“I think people are obviously wondering what has happened because we’ve had changes of leader within this last year, but actually so did Labour before the last election,” Collins said.
Tomorrow will see Collins face off with Jacinda Ardern for the final time before election day, in the second TVNZ leaders’ debate. Then, the two opponents will have just one last full day of campaigning (in Auckland) to try and muster support.
On the campaign trail
Here’s where our political leaders are today:
- Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern is in Christchurch for a pair of walkabouts, one in the central city and one in Riccarton Mall.
- National Party leader Judith Collins is in Hamilton today for a public meeting and to announce a policy for seniors.
- New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is back in Auckland today for a public meeting in Kelston.
- Act Party leader David Seymour is also in Christchurch and could be crossing paths with Ardern. He’s in Burnside, Hornby and Riccarton.
- Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson and James Shaw will be on site at the University of Auckland to meet with students.
8.00am: National’s leadership on the defensive
We’re just three days away from polling day and the contrast between the Labour and National campaigns could not be more clear.
While Jacinda Ardern was yesterday surrounded by hordes of smiling students at Victoria University, Judith Collins was labelling obesity a “weakness” and asking people to take personal responsibility. Today, while Ardern probably has a cuppa and preps for the day ahead, Collins is defending her comments after backlash and a series of negative stories on the evening news.
Collins told Newshub it was a matter of eating healthy fresh food and exercising. “I’ve seen it in my own family,” she said. “People have taken charge of their food and strangely enough they’ve lost weight.”
“Any decent GP will say it’s not that complicated.”
Meanwhile, National’s deputy Gerry Brownlee appeared on Newstalk ZB to continue pushing the line about a wealth tax. Jacinda Ardern has ruled out adopting the Green Party’s policy about 50 times, but the opposition continue to argue that it will be a high priority for a Labour-Green coalition.
Brownlee claimed, with no proof, that all taxes were back on the table. “The only thing they’ve got is tax so why stop at getting an extra $500 million in, so it’s a live issue,” he said.
The combativeness of the party’s leadership has come under fire from pundits, with a report on RNZ suggesting it’s in an effort to gain support from National’s core base.
Political commentator and Gone by Lunchtime co-host Ben Thomas said the moves by Collins are intentional.
“It’s an attempt to inject some relevance and appear as if the contest is a one-on-one battle between the National leader and the Labour leader,” Thomas said.
“I think that when you start accusing a party leader we know has very high favourability ratings, very high trust levels, calling them a liar, that you’re not going for median voters, you’re not going for those centre voters there.”
Over on the typically light-hearted TVNZ Breakfast, Collins was yet again asked to defend something – this time the performance of her front bench.
Host John Campbell said there had been “more sightings of Elvis” than some in her top bench on the campaign trail. But Collins disagreed: “Campaigns these days are very much along a presidential style so they are off doing all sorts of things in electorates, not only their own but all around the country,” Collins said.
7.40am: Top stories from The Bulletin
Should governments be able to access the encrypted data held by technology companies? That is being debated after New Zealand joined other Five Eyes partners in calling on tech companies to give up access. Radio NZ had a report on the call – in it, justice minister (and intelligence service minister) Andrew Little said that it wasn’t necessarily about giving governments “inherent right of access”, but rather it was a question of companies giving up access provided a proper and lawful warrant was provided for it. Little specifically cited the risk of child predators as an example of criminality that encryption protected.
This is all playing out in a global context, particularly here, because the New Zealand government has little power alone to force the hands of transnational companies. The Verge notes that the US Justice department “has a long history of anti-encryption advocacy”. It also notes that similar calls have taken place before, but there appears to be more weight behind it all this time – a highly technical but useful bit of analysis from The Daily Swig suggests that now commercial pressure can be brought to bear on non-compliant tech companies. That piece also foregrounded some of the legitimate arguments in favour of end to end encryption as being a necessary tool for protecting both commerce and legitimate privacy rights.
On that point, some have spoken out in New Zealand. Radio NZ carried comments from Council of Civil Liberties chair Thomas Beagle, who described the call as “contradictory and dangerous”, and that while New Zealand’s government may be relatively trustworthy when it comes to handling sensitive information, that isn’t at all true of others. The counterargument was put in this Stuff editorial, which said that the government’s request was reasonable and necessary. “By urging social media companies to address concerns about encryption that precludes any legal access, the governments are not urging the companies to dramatically expose all their users’ secrets. They are urging the companies to act as good citizens.”
7.30am: Yesterday’s headlines
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.