Jacinda Ardern on the campaign trail with MP Megan Woods and candidate Tracey McLellan (Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Labour puts little new in climate policy

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Labour puts little new in climate policy, community cases once again down to zero, and Collins has a bad day out in Ponsonby.

Labour’s climate change policy announcement has been received as a bit of a letdown by their potential allies in the next parliament. Newshub covered the details of the package – a lot of it isn’t exactly new, but there was a pledge to decarbonise the bus fleet by 2035. Little of note was added around converting the private car fleet to electric vehicles, which would reduce a greater share of transport emissions, and is an area where government underperformance has been exploited by arguably more ambitious National party policy.

The full release from the party can be read here, and also included a commitment to “increasing funding across agricultural climate change research programmes by $6 million a year”. There was also a fairly contestable claim from Ardern that “during our first term in Government, climate change was at the centre of all our policy work and commitments.”

The issue of climate change is central to Labour leader Jacinda Ardern’s political brand. As the NZ Herald’s Derek Cheng noted in this analysis piece, she certainly is happy to use it as a cudgel against her National opponent Judith Collins. But the difference between the two parties probably isn’t really as great as it might seem – particularly in sectors like transport, though they do get larger in sectors like agriculture.

For the Greens, the issue is one of their biggest points of difference with Labour. The NZ Herald reports co-leader Marama Davidson welcomed the fact that there was now a climate change policy out there, but that they’re too weak to meet Paris Agreement targets. “We are running out of time. Their policy is not going to meet the challenge at the scale it demands,” said Davidson. Many parties have emissions policies to take to the electorate, and you can read all of them (along with Labour’s existing slate) on Policy.


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We’re once again down to zero active known Covid-19 cases in the community. As our live updates reported, the ministry is still urging people to be vigilant, despite the milestone. The full total of confirmed cases to date, including those caught at the border, is 1505, and close to a million tests have now been processed.


What a day for Judith Collins. It perhaps seemed fanciful that she would get a friendly reception in the ultra-liberal Auckland suburb of Ponsonby, but she tried it anyway. Stewart Sowman-Lund was there to see party loyalists get caught out impersonating ordinary members of the public, and get barred entry from a shop. Meanwhile Ben Thomas has written about her position as leader, how a day like that doesn’t necessarily mean the party is imploding, and how attention will start to turn soon to what happens after the election.


An accounting professor has hit out over big firms who (legally) pocketed the wage subsidy, when they “morally” should not have. Stuff’s John Anthony has covered the comments from University of Auckland accounting professor Jilnaught Wong, who has looked particularly at Briscoes, retirement village operator Summerset, and Hallensteins-Glassons. The contention is based on the profits reported and dividends paid out by some of those companies for the year. You may also recall Duncan Greive writing about this topic last month – that’s worth going back and rereading for more context.


The diversity of political thought within Christianity is one of the great under-covered topics in New Zealand, and this piece is a stunning contribution. The Spinoff’s Justin Latif has taken the recent photo of Judith Collins praying as a starting point, and then looked at the candidates running in the heavily religious electorate of Māngere, to ask how their faith influences their views. He also spoke to ordinary voters about what their faith means for their political choices, and rounded it out with some expert commentary.


More complaints have emerged about VoteSafe flyers ending up in EasyVote packs, where they should not be. I report that three more people have declared on the record that their packs included the flyers, amid a continuing Electoral Commission investigation. VoteSafe themselves, who are adamant they had absolutely nothing to do with it, are concerned that their campaign will be unfairly suspected of skullduggery as a result of the incident.


A fascinating story on how student money at Auckland Uni is being spent (or perhaps misspent, who knows) by clubs. Craccum’s Justin Wong and Daniel Meech have dug deep into the sums that have been handed out, funded out of the Student Levy, and sought to investigate whether the actual spending is above board. In the vast majority of cases, no information has been forthcoming, suggesting further investigation is more than warranted.


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Image: Tina Tiller

Right now on The Spinoff: Simon Day writes about his passion for giving his sons the opportunity to learn te reo. Massey University provost Giselle Byrnes writes about structural racism in universities, and how they should change. Alice Webb-Liddall explores the history of how Queen St shaped Auckland. We’ve got a two-minute explainer on the various small business policies being taken into the election. And Gone By Lunchtime looks at some crunchy topics like what the rush of early voting means, whether any Māori seats could tip, Collins’ newfound openness about Christianity and more.


For a feature today, a deep dive into where the swing voters are. Radio NZ’s Kate Newton has pulled up election data to find the booths the have voted almost exactly in line with the general result in recent elections, and drilled down into what it might mean. Here’s an excerpt:

For a long time in New Zealand’s political history, Hamilton West was one of two traditional bellwether electorates, along with neighbouring Hamilton East. “[They] used to be the ones that people talked about – where Hamilton goes, the country goes,” political pollster David Farrar says. “That was certainly quite correct for many years.” However, National has now retained those seats since 2005 despite two changes of government.

Using entire electorates as bellwethers is not as feasible under MMP as it was under first-past-the-post, Farrar says. “You still get that in countries like the United States where they can point to tipping-point states… You can still find areas that tend to be reflective of New Zealand so they give you an advance look at what’s happening but I don’t think they’re as predictive as they were in the past.”

Counterintuitively, looking at individual polling booths could provide a more accurate picture of voting tendencies, he says. “You get some polling places which reflect [a] suburb as a whole and that suburb [happens to be] a good microcosm of the swing voters – the ones who do tend to flip between National and Labour. There are some areas where it doesn’t matter how good a day the National or Labour Party is having, they’re still going to be 70 or 80 percent that party.”


In sport, a long awaited boxing match has finally been confirmed. Joseph Parker and Junior Fa will step into the ring again in December, after having a drawn record against each other in the amateur ranks. Stuff’s Duncan Johnstone has analysed the two boxers head to head, and put forward a case for how the fight will go – either way, both are at crucial moments of their careers, and have plenty on the line.


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