Election Live, October 16: Labour drops but still could govern alone – just – in final poll of campaign

Welcome to The Spinoff’s Election Live for October 16, 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

8.00pm: The day in sum

A Newshub-Reid Research poll, the last of the campaign, had Labour on 45.8%, down 4.3 points, and National on 31.1%, up 1.5 points.

Advancing voting figures showed that yesterday 176,229 people voted, taking the advance total to a whopping 1,742,960.

Both National leader Judith Collins and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern were out and about in Auckland making a final bid for votes on the last day of the campaign.

A Newshub poll showed support for the cannabis referendum slipping away.

There were four new imported cases of Covid-19, and a historic case was investigated, but found to pose no risk to the public.

7.00pm: Auckland school headmaster warns parents against legalising cannabis

Parents of students at one of New Zealand’s largest schools received strongly worded advice about cannabis from the headmaster today, hours before some of them head to the polls to vote on whether to legalise the drug.

Patrick Drumm, headmaster at Mount Albert Grammar School in Auckland, the second largest school in the country, sent an email to parents of all students warning that the “disturbing prospect” of legal cannabis would ruin the brains of students, expressing concern about the “seemingly frivolous approach of some commentators” to the referendum.

“The overwhelming evidence of the disastrous impact of cannabis on the young brain has been dismissed and even been a source of humour for some,” he wrote.

He added that the government would be powerless to keep legal cannabis out of the hands of young New Zealanders. “It can never be okay for a young person to get ‘stoned’, ‘wasted’ or ‘high’. And the impact on learning? … It’s not called ‘dope’ for nothing!” he wrote.

The proposed legislation at the centre of the debate would prohibit cannabis for under-20s, with heavy penalties for anyone caught supplying cannabis to underage users.

Drumm doubted how effective enforcement would be, however, writing, “If we think that the government and authorities can police underage access to cannabis, just turn up any given Saturday night to a party of 15-year-olds and see how effectively alcohol and vaping laws are being enforced!”

On Twitter, former prime minister Helen Clark, a vocal proponent of the yes campaign, called Drumm’s actions “disgusting”.

6.00pm: Labour drops, National sees small rise in final poll of campaign

The final poll of the campaign has Labour on 45.8%, down 4.3 points, and National on 31.1%, up 1.5, the night before election day. The Newshub-Reid Research poll, revealed on tonight’s 6pm news, suggests tomorrow’s election will be “a real nail-biter”, with Labour still able to govern alone – but only just.

Act has continued its strong swing upwards, up 1.1 to 7.4%, with the Greens slightly down to 6.3%. Interestingly, NZ First sees a bit of a surge, up 1.6 to 3.5% – Winston Peters’ party is battling for survival, needing 5% or an electorate to make it back to parliament.

The full numbers from tonight’s Newshub-Reid Research poll:

  • Labour 45.8%
  • National 31.1%
  • Act 7.4%
  • Greens 6.3%
  • NZ First 3.5%
  • New Conservative 1.7%
  • Top 1.3%
  • Māori Party 0.6%
  • Advance NZ 0.3%

5.55pm: Case under investigation confirmed as historic

The person reported earlier today as having returned a weak positive Covid-19 test result (see 1.00pm) has now been confirmed as having a historical infection and is therefore no risk to the public, the Ministry of Health says.

The person had returned two negative tests during their time in MIQ in Auckland in September. They then returned a weak positive result this week after becoming unwell with a respiratory illness.

“Earlier we reported a PCR test conducted today had returned a negative result. Serology tests run today have shown the presence of antibodies that further confirm this is a historical infection,” said the ministry in a press release.

“The ministry’s public health experts have assessed this person’s test results and concluded that the infection is historical, and there are no further steps required to limit risk to the community.

“An acute non-Covid- 19 respiratory illness can sometimes create a situation where residual Covid-19 virus particles are detected when a sample is taken.

“Importantly, international research shows people with a historical COVID-19 infection are not infectious.

“Our assessment is that because the person is not infectious, there is no further management of close or casual contacts required.”

5.00pm: The last day in numbers

The leaders have been busy on the last day of the everlasting campaign. Ahead of the final event of note, the Newshub poll at 6pm, here’s some numbers to wrap it up.

Jacinda Ardern today featured in 82 selfies in her walkabouts in Auckland.

Judith Collins was joined by 30 “human hoardings” on the North Shore.

David Seymour scored 28% for his “David Smore” flavour, thereby winning the politician cone competition at Rollickin gelato in Christchurch.

James Shaw served 50 coffees to the people of Wellington.

And Winston Peters brought one superpower to the campaign trail: Beau. 😍

PSA: Send us ya dog pics!

Tomorrow’s live updates will, until 7pm, be exclusively photos of dogs outside polling booths.

Are you a dog? Are you outside a polling booth? Or, more likely, are you someone who owns a dog that will be outside a polling booth? Well, what are you doing – send us your pictures!

Email us at info@thespinoff.co.nz to be featured in tomorrow’s live updates. Exclusively dogs*, please – we see enough humans every day.

And, join The Spinoff from 7pm tomorrow as the election results roll in.

*Other dog-like critters may be permitted, at our discretion

2.45pm: The final events of the 2020 election campaign

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins are wrapping up their 2020 election campaigns, and The Spinoff’s been there to see it.

Collins joined National supporters in Rosedale, on the North Shore of Auckland, who had lined the street with placards and signs. Chants of “Judith!” and “two ticks blue” could be heard, and every toot from a passing car was meant with a resounding cheer.

Judith Collins campaigns with National supporters (Photo : Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern has been, to quote The Spinoff’s political editor Justin Giovannetti, providing a masterclass in campaign eating at Everybody Eats, in Onehunga.

Labour is headed down Onehunga Mall this afternoon as it looks to end two months of campaigning in south Auckland.

Jacinda Ardern in Onehunga (Photo : Justin Giovannetti)

We’ll have a full write-up from the final day of the campaign a little later this afternoon.

2.35pm: The readers have spoken – here’s what Ardern was eating

After the call for reader suggestions earlier in today’s live updates (at 12.05pm) my inbox has been flooded with guesses as to what Jacinda Ardern had in her snack pack.

Abby said she thinks we’re right with our guess about the Heartland chips and Whittakers chocolate. “I also have a sneaking suspicion that the black packet on the right is a packet of Frooze Balls. Also pure speculation though.”

Meanwhile, Eddy said: “Definitely a packet of Tom and Luke’s snack balls in there. Looks to be the peanut butter and cacao flavour. Couldn’t say what the mysterious orange packet behind the chips (?) is though.”

If YOU, the humble reader, know what the Labour Party leader is eating – email me now!

2.15pm: 1.7 million people have now voted

The latest advance voting numbers are out. Yesterday 176,229 voted, taking the advance total to a whopping 1,742,960. That’s two thirds the turnout of 2017. If the numbers are the same today, the total advance vote will be within touching distance of two million.

1.00pm: Historic Covid-19 case ‘under investigation’, four new imported cases

The Ministry of Health is investigating after someone returned a “weak positive” result for Covid-19 in Wellington.

The person is a recent returnee from the United States who completed their full 14 days in a managed isolation facility in September. They were asymptomatic during this time and returned two negative tests during this time, the ministry said. They were released on September 21.

After becoming unwell this week, they sought medical care. They were subsequently tested for Covid-19, which has returned a weak positive result, indicating an old infection. The ministry has undertaken further testing today to fully confirm this is a historic infection.

It is understood that contact tracing is underway, as a precautionary measure.

A PCR test conducted today has returned a negative result, the ministry said. This follow-up testing result “strongly suggests that this is a historical infection”. The results from other tests, including serology, are not yet known.

“We are taking precautionary measures as we always do in these instances and the individual has been transferred to an MIQ facility in Wellington,” the ministry said.

“As we have seen with other cases, individuals can return weak positive tests if they have been infected earlier in the year. This case follows a typical pattern of what we have seen in other historical cases.”

Four new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation

There are four new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation in New Zealand today, the Ministry of Health is reporting.

The first imported case arrived from the Philippines via Hong Kong on October 3 and was taken to a managed isolation facility in Auckland.

They tested positive as part of routine day 12 testing and have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

The second new case arrived from Peru via Mexico and the USA on October 10 and was taken to a managed isolation facility in Christchurch. They tested positive on day three.

The third and fourth imported cases both arrived from Hong Kong on October 11 and were taken to a managed isolation facility in Auckland. They also tested positive after routine day three testing and have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is now 1,524, with 46 active cases – all imported.

There are no active community cases of Covid-19, however further details about the suspected historical case under investigation are expected to be released later today.

Yesterday, 5,078 tests were processed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,021,931.

12.30pm: ‘Lend us your vote’ – Act’s final plea before election day

David Seymour has made his final pledge to voters, on the last day of campaigning before the polls close. The party’s on track to increase its representation in parliament tenfold, based on recent polling.

In a press statement, Seymour makes a direct appeal to National voters.

“To people who perhaps have never thought of voting Act, or those who have always ‘bled blue’, I say this: Lend us your vote this time and at the end of three years, I think you’ll want us to keep it,” said Seymour.

The Act Party leader is about to hold a rally in Auckland CBD, in a final attempt to muster votes.

“It has never been more important to hold all of the other parties accountable.  To ensure that the government doesn’t saddle the next generation with a debt it can never hope to pay off.  We will fight for a faster recovery and a lower tax burden. Act will never fear speaking truth to power in Wellington. Our values are your values,” Seymour said.

“Our focus will be on making good laws that benefit New Zealanders; we have all seen too much petty politicking. And the simple truth is, you deserve better.”

12.05pm: Ardern shows off ‘van snackpack’

Some wholesome content from the Ardern campaign bus. Is that a cherry ripe? Send me your guesses to stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

*Update* We have received intel alleging the contents of Ardern’s snackpack are a Whittakers almond gold mini and a pack of Heartland ready salted chips. We are seeking urgent confirmation.

11.45am: Collins campaigns in Mount Roskill on final day before election

Judith Collins is in Mount Roskill today, largely to prove a point about the lack of light rail promised for the suburb by the Labour-led government.

Speaking to media, Collins rattled off a long list of pledges by Jacinda Ardern that have not been fulfilled. “I could go on all day,” she said.

Asked what she’ll be doing on election day, when campaigning is not allowed, Collins said: “I’m going to get my hair done”. She wanted a sleep in, but her hair appointment’s book for 9am.

Collins said her leadership style is “straightforward” and that people would never “die wondering” what her beliefs were.

She remained confident that she will still be the leader of the National Party after tomorrow night. “It’s very hard for someone to roll the prime minister,” Collins said with a wink.

Jacinda Ardern yesterday said she would resign if she loses the election. Collins said, if that happens, she thinks Ardern will be “off to the UN”.

The highlight of the campaign was a “standing room only public meeting in Palmerston North”, Collins said, that happened before the second lockdown. It’s a seat firmly held by Labour.

Finishing her media stand-up, Collins said, “I’m off to find that light rail” as she wandered off into Mount Roskill.

The rest of Collins’ schedule today involves meeting volunteers and help with “human hoardings” on the North Shore. In contrast, Jacinda Ardern is doing several walkabouts and mall visits.

10.50am: Twitter crashes, political fanatics freak out

Twitter appears to be down, according to an unscientific poll of two people in The Spinoff office.

It comes on the final day of campaigning for the 2020 election, meaning it is now impossible to frenetically type out hot takes followed by the hashtag #nzpol.

(Image : Twitter)

On the campaign trail

It’s the FINAL day of campaigning. Let us bask in this moment.

Here’s where our political leaders are today:

  • Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern is finishing off a mega morning of media before heading to Avondale for a factory tour and then conducting a series of walk abouts. She’ll be in New Lynn, Manurewa, Onehunga and Kingsland.
  • National Party leader Judith Collins is in Mount Roskill this morning, before heading to the North Shore. She’ll be in Browns Bay and Rosedale.
  • New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is finishing his campaign in Whangārei.
  • Act Party leader David Seymour is in Auckland today, visiting Devonport and holding a campaign rally in the CBD.
  • Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is in Mount Roskill this morning, then off to Southmall in Manurewa. She will end the day (and the campaign!) at the Papatoetoe Night Markets. James Shaw is in Wellington, visiting cafes and meeting locals.

9.15am: The final leaders’ debate in 2.5 minutes

This video by The Spinoff’s José Barbosa sums up how we’re all feeling. It’s bleak and beautiful.

8.00am: Collins still wouldn’t work with Winston Peters

Judith Collins said she still won’t work with Winston Peters, even if it’s the only path to power for the National Party.

It’s been the position of the party since Simon Bridges ruled out extending a hand to the New Zealand First leader after the last election.

“Our caucus has made it very clear that they’d rather not do a deal with Mr Peters,” Collins told RNZ. “I just don’t think he’s going to be back, so I’d say to his voters: don’t waste your vote, and vote National.”

“There hasn’t been any reconsideration” of this position, the National leader said.

Asked whether she’s had the backing of her party colleagues during the election campaign, Collins said she “felt very supported”. The last 10 days have been rife with leaks from within the National Party, with suggestions Collins’ days as leader could be numbered if she doesn’t win the election.

“Everyone is very focused on this and working hard for New Zealand,” she said.

7.45am: New poll suggests cannabis referendum won’t pass

A Newshub poll released this morning shows support for the cannabis referendum slipping away.

The Reid Research study asked people: “Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?”

  • 55.6% said ‘no’ (+5.1 points on the previous Newshub-Reid’s September 30 poll)
  • 38.3% said ‘yes’ (+0.4 points)
  • 5.7% ‘didn’t know’
  • 0.4% won’t vote

The poll result comes after Green Party polling seen by The Spinoff showed advance voters are more likely to oppose cannabis legalisation and just a day after the latest TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll also showed the referendum was unlikely to be successful. However, a recent study commissioned by pro-legalisation campaigners suggested that the referendum could yet go their way.

7.40am: Top stories from The Bulletin

A poll released just days before the election shows Labour is still in a clear position to form the next government. While the One News Colmar Brunton showed Labour no longer had the numbers to govern alone, a surge for the Greens means they held a significant combined lead over National and Act.

The numbers: Labour were down one point to 46%, National were down a point to 31%, the Greens were up to 8%, and Act were holding steady on 8%. No other party was above the threshold, though NZ First continued to climb, getting up to 3%. New Conservative were up to 2%, The Opportunities Party were down to 1%, Advance NZ were stuck on 1%, and the Māori Party were up to 1%. If that is the final tally, then basically the only viable government will be Labour supported by the Greens. It’s worth noting though – on these numbers there is still a possibility that we’ll see either or both of NZ First and the Māori Party get back in, the latter through winning one of the seven seats they’re contesting.

But a significant point about it all: The poll only had a 7% share of undecideds, and 8% of voters refusing to answer. Combine that with the 1.5 million strong early vote, and that leaves an extremely small number of available voters for parties to win. This doesn’t mean that the shape of parliament is a foregone conclusion of course, so if you haven’t voted yet, see that you do. And of course, we can’t discount the possibility that the polls are simply wrong, unlikely as that seems.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

7.30am: Yesterday’s headlines

There were two new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation

Advance NZ’s Facebook page was taken down by the social media company, citing repeated violations of its Covid-19 misinformation policy

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins met in their final election debate of 2020

A new TVNZ/Colmar Brunton poll put Labour at 46%, and the Greens jumping 2 points to 8%

Winston Peters knew about NZ First Foundation finances a year before scandal broke, contrary to his claims, according to a Stuff report

A major report found that climate change is already happening in New Zealand

More than 1.5 million advance votes have now been cast.

Read yesterday’s Election Live here



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