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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

PoliticsJune 20, 2023

The Spinoff hereby declares the 2023 election season open

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Our election coverage has officially started which means so has election season, writes editor Madeleine Chapman.

To support The Spinoff’s election 2023 coverage, become a member today

Maybe it’s because half the country didn’t have a real summer or because there have already been multiple natural disasters and it’s not even July; whatever the reason, this year has felt both truncated and infinite. So it’s no surprise that, despite being nearly four whole months out from the election, it feels as if the political campaign machine has been running for weeks already.

We’ve had resignations and call-outs and faux pas and so, so many shares. This week already we’ve had a pointless debate about how surgeries are prioritised. The candidates have their boots on and every poorly-framed headline is a football.

The early policy announcements have been yelled about by politicians across the aisle and, probably, largely ignored by voters. Unlike 2020, the most boring election in the world (in that there was barely an opposition party), the only thing we know for certain this year is that we have no idea what the hell is going to happen.

Chrises Hipkins and Luxon (Image: Archi Banal)

The cost of living is the unofficial theme, meaning tax is also the unofficial theme for the 12th consecutive election. Will Labour go for a capital gains tax again? Who’ll be responsible for a giant budget hole this time? And will Act and Green sweep a handful of seats each as Labour and National scrap it out for the middle? I suspect these questions will be irrelevant in two weeks’ time when the next big scandal (whatever it may be) unfolds.

Here at The Spinoff Towers, we’re raring to go in what has become the election of the minor parties. For what is The Spinoff if not a minor party in the beehive of New Zealand media? We’ll be doing what we always do: finding the fresh angle, the unexplored potential and the funniest idiosyncrasies of our political hopefuls. And occasionally yelling at the bigger parties.

There’ll be more episodes of New Zealand’s most beloved political podcast, Gone By Lunchtime, including interviews, quick reactions and, inevitably, Toby Manhire monopods. If you’re not already subscribed, now’s the time.

Season two of hit series Youth Wings, following the students leaders of the major political parties, will premiere in August.

We’ll be increasing our presence in the press gallery, as well as having more on-the-ground reporting on the campaign trail, like Stewart Sowman-Lund on the Luxon roadshow, Shanti Mathias at the Greens’ tax launch, Duncan Greive with Grey Power and Winston Peters, and Toby Manhire going deep on the Act revival.

Additional travel and editorial costs during the election is only possible thanks to the ongoing support of The Spinoff Members. Every donation allows our writers to chase the big stories, no matter where in the country they are. If you aren’t already, become a Spinoff Member today.

We’ll also be the one-stop shop for all your “wtf does that mean?” needs. For recent explainers, see: Edward Willis on the privileges committee and Charlotte Muru-Lanning on rongoā and the Therapeutic Products Bill. If there’s something worth knowing, we’ll make sure it’s clear and concise.

All the while, we’ll be working away on bigger, meatier reads around health, democracy and transparency. We’re a small team and we’ve got some big things planned.

But sometimes, politics is just a bit ridiculous. We’ll cover issues with the seriousness they deserve. Which means sometimes we will be very unserious. Please, if I ask one thing of voters this election. Find some things to laugh at. It’s going to get messy and it’s going to be long. We’re going to need all the laughs we can get. And if times are desperate enough, I’ll start making memes again.

We’ll see you out on the trail.

Keep going!