The BulletinSeptember 11, 2023

Policies and pledges from a weekend on the campaign trail


Plus: Act floats a confidence-only partnership, and raises the prospect of – altogether now – a coalition of chaos, writes Catherine McGregor in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Seymour threatens to withdraw supply unless National come to the table on policy

In a weekend of announcements from all the major parties, potentially the most consequential wasn’t actually a manifesto promise. Act leader David Seymour, frustrated by Christopher Luxon’s fondness for rejecting Act policy out-of-hand, said he was considering a confidence-only deal with National, leaving the “supply” part of “confidence and supply” to one side. Translation: Act would keep National in government, but National would have to seek approval for spending on a case-by-case basis. That’s a recipe for chaos, and would ultimately bring down the government if Act refused to vote in favour of a National budget. Speaking to RNZ on Saturday, constitutional law expert Andrew Geddis said he suspected Act’s threat was “more of a negotiating ploy” but, “if… it’s been said by one of the parties that this is something they’re prepared to do, then I guess we have to take that seriously”.

Act would ‘build like the boomers’ – but what would that actually mean?

Act made news again on Sunday when it released its housing policy – and an exhortation for New Zealand to “build like the boomers”. If you’re surprised by the suggestion that boomers have been champions of homebuilding in recent decades, you’re not alone. However, according to its press release, Act is actually referring to higher building rates in the 1970s than today. “‘Boomer’ has been used as a term of derision, but that generation knew how to build houses,” Seymour said. As well as scrapping the reformed Resource Management Act – now known as the Natural and Built Environment Act – Act would allow builders to opt out of council building consents, RNZ reports. Both changes would dramatically improve the supply and cost of new homes, Seymour claims. Building insurance would fill the gap left by expensive consents. “We say if you can get it privately insured, you can build it,” he said. “If you can’t, maybe someone’s trying to tell you something.” For more on Act’s bid for government, be sure to check out Stewart Sowman-Lund’s report from the campaign trail this morning on The Spinoff.

National announces health targets, says EV drivers will pay road user charges

Seymour’s potential coalition partner also announced some new policy over the weekend, including a set of health targets for a National government and a scheme to pay GPs for achieving immunisation targets. The government already has similar targets in place and a recently launched immunisation payment scheme, prompting health minister Ayesha Verrall to call National’s policy a “cut and paste” job. “National either aren’t aware or were hoping we didn’t notice them flogging our policy,” she said. Over on the transport beat, spokesperson Simeon Brown told Stuff’s Catherine Hubbard that National would make electric vehicles subject to road user charges from March next year. As with diesel vehicles, EVs would be charged based on the number of kilometres they travelled, and Brown said National wants all vehicles to eventually pay this way, rather than through a fuel excise tax. It was a so-so weekend for Luxon, who faced some brutal questioning from Q&A’s Jack Tame on Sunday. The Herald’s Claire Trevett (paywalled) says it was a “‘gruesome” showing where Luxon “looked like the first-term MP that he is”.

Hipkins launches pledge card, Davidson and Shaw make final big policy announcement

As for Labour, leader Chris Hipkins launched his personal ‘pledge card’ featuring nine policies – one more than Luxon’s last week – that would be rolled out in the next term if Labour wins. “Hipkins’ card was clearly aimed at painting Labour as the Chris Hipkins Labour and distinguishing his own priorities from those set out in 2020 by Jacinda Ardern,” writes Trevett. Finally to the Greens, who said they would introduce legislation to create an Ocean Commission in the first 100 days, and pass a Healthy Ocean Act in the next three years. Having released policies nearly every Sunday over the past few months, this was the Greens’ final big-ticket announcement before the election, RNZ reports. Time for a round of applause, says Vernon Small in the Sunday Star-Times (paywalled). In a week when the other parties were misfiring all over the motu, “the Greens were the epitome of good sense and discipline”, he writes. If you haven’t caught the Gone by Lunchtime interview with the Green co-leaders yet, let this be your reminder to load it up on your podcast player for your morning commute.

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