Here’s how The Guardian sees the NZ election:
The debate between the two leaders was dominated by housing, tax and immigration. English attacked what he called Labour’s “vague and confusing” policies and reiterated his party’s tax cut policies. “People can’t go shopping with your values … every person in New Zealand who does not have children will be worse off under Labour,” he said.
Ardern attacked National’s record on housing, reiterating a Labour plan to build 10,000 houses a year. Home ownership rates in New Zealand have fallen to their lowest since 1951 and affordability is one of the greatest challenges, with prices increasing 34% in the last three years.
English said affordability was better than it had been in 2008 due to low interest rates, to which Ardern replied: “Tell someone in Auckland that a $150,000 deposit is affordable.”
Ardern’s biggest challenge going into the debate was expected to be whether she could hold her own on economic issues alongside English, who is a former finance minister, as well as claims that Labour lacks clarity on future tax plans.
Labour’s fiscal plan includes spending an additional $20bn (£11bn) over four years. Ardern said the money would come from cancelling tax cuts, paying off debt more slowly and cracking down on international tax avoidance.
English asked whether Labour would tell meat workers why it would take $1,000 a year from them by cancelling tax cuts to make university “a bit cheaper for lawyers”. Ardern had announced on Tuesday that she would fast-track a Labour policy to phase in three years of free tertiary education.
Political analysts were divided over which of the party leaders came out on top. Grant Duncan, an associate professor of political theory and New Zealand politics at Massey University, called it a draw. “The moderator put more pressure on Jacinda compared with the challenges to Bill over his government’s performance, handing Bill the advantage,” he said.
Here’s how NZ sees it:
Tax and wages
Early on English attacked Labour’s “vague and confusing” policies and talked up his party’s commitment to tax cuts – telling Ardern her party would take $1000 a year off meatworkers in Horowhenua.
“People can’t go shopping with your values … every person in New Zealand who does not have children will be worse off under Labour.”
Ardern returned serve later by saying while the economy was fairly robust, she was also aware that for two-thirds of New Zealanders, their pay increase last year did not keep up with the cost of living.
Productivity is flat-lining, Ardern said, and with almost half of all jobs threatened by automation and other advances it was necessary to invest in people. Labour’s free tertiary policy would do that.
Water was a key topic of debate. Ardern defended Labour’s plan to introduce a royalty on water, saying New Zealand’s rivers are dying and it isn’t right that water bottlers aren’t paying. The effect on farmers and other businesses would be small, she said.
English defended National’s record on clean rivers after Hosking suggested National had been “caught with its pants down” on the issue.
The country was smart enough to produce quality food for the world and lift water standards, he said.
“It’s not a trade-off, it’s really important people understand that.”
The National leader warned a royalty on water would leader to disputes over ownership with Maori – something Ardern strongly disputed.
“How will you solve the issue? … Bill has bumped this to a working group which is meant to be reporting in December.”
The debate’s moderator Hosking pushed Ardern on whether New Zealanders would pay a capital gains tax under a Labour government.
She said Kiwis would “never” pay one on the family home. She said she was asking voters to “hear us out” on its tax proposals, which would be considered by a tax working group in Labour’s first term.
Ardern went after English on National’s record on housing – repeatedly asking English, “do we have a housing crisis?”.
She reiterated Labour’s plan to build 10,000 houses a year, and said an affordable selling rate was $400,000 to $600,000. When Hosking said that was “less than a builder could build it” for, she said it would be possible at scale.
She did not directly answer questions about whether she wanted house prices to fall. English claimed “speculation has been beaten” by getting more houses built with 200,000 in the pipeline. He disputed Hosking’s statement that enough houses weren’t being built.
English questioned how Labour would build hundreds of thousands of houses while at the same time cutting immigration.
Ardern confirmed her party’s policy would see net migration numbers drop 20-30,000, but said that was through cutting international student numbers at low-level courses, and not everyone arriving in New Zealand was a builder or electrician.
After Hosking questioned whether low skilled migrants were keeping Kiwis out of jobs, English said, “someone has to pick the Kiwifruit, someone has to milk the cows”.
Ardern responded: “if everyone coming to New Zealand was going to the regions we wouldn’t be having this conversation”.
Ardern was asked about the recent decision to expand the NZDF’s contribution to a mission in Afghanistan by three personnel. She thanked English for providing information to her on the matter but said as Prime Minister she would want to review further details currently not available to her – saying her position could be summarised as “hesitant”.
On the Presidency of Donald Trump, English said it had proven to be unique and “interesting”. Any request for NZ to join a future conflict would be assessed on its merits but “we do want to play our role in the world”.
North Korea was the biggest threat to world stability, English said, and he is concerned the tension with the US was escalating to a point where misjudgements could be dangerous.
“I agree with Bill on that last one,” Ardern said.
Hosking asked what each had learned following their unexpected elevation to the leadership.
English said he had become even more motivated about the choice in this election – vagueness and uncertainty, or “building on our economic strength”.
Ardern said she had “learnt how much you can squeeze into a day” and the importance of being yourself. She said she was convinced New Zealand can be a better country.
Yes, Guardian, Labour is not only going to cut negative gearing, it’s going to cut immigration by up to one third to prevent it doing further damage to house prices, wages and living standards (it’s still not clear how much will be permanent vs temporary) . That’s why it is now stealing votes from the conservatives at Winston Peter’s NZ First and the sustainable population Greens:
The Guardian’s self-censoring ideologues can’t even report it accurately. This is not some new racism rising in New Zealand. It’s a little old fashioned Left. That Left which knew a class war on the young and vulnerable when it saw it. That Left which sought to prevent the systemic disenfranshisement of entire cohorts of the polity. That Left which saw poverty and inequality as the great enemies of progress.
That true Left which The Guardian has completely abandoned in its hypocritical defense of a wages destroying, capital elevating, poverty and inequality entrenching globalist elite.