22 Sep 2023

On the campaign trail, week three: Debates, polls, sausage and cheese rolls

From Focus on Politics, 7:00 pm on 22 September 2023
Illustrated political party leaders for Election 2023

Photo: RNZ

"You've had a chance, that's enough, there are adults in the room" - Winston Peters

The minor parties gave glimpses of their own cooperation styles at the Newshub Nation Powerbrokers' debate, while polls continued to signal Labour on the downturn. 

GDP numbers also showed no recession for New Zealand, although inflation remains high.

While NZ First's Winston Peters and ACT's David Seymour grudgingly hinted they could work together in Thursday's debate, Greens' Marama Davidson and Te Pāti Māori's Debbie Ngarewa-Packer agreed so much it was easy to forget they were from different parties. It was a much more lively affair than the Chris-vs-Christopher clash earlier in the week.

Along with the better-than-expected-but-still-troublesome GDP figures, the PREFU prompted calls for parties to change their promises from both Seymour and Peters - making National's tax plans a possible point of contention.

Meanwhile, Labour's Chris Hipkins and National's Christopher Luxon have been on a roll on the campaign trail: the seemingly endless sausage rolls in the case of the former, Southland cheese rolls for the latter. 

National's morning-event routine does appear to be an effective approach for his campaigning, but neither he nor Hipkins' travels seem to be focusing on swaying the unconvinced voter. 

Next week's appointments will include a second head-to-head debate between the two, which may give them another chance - but as Labour's Greg O'Connor warned, the polls suggest the party's chances of clawing back support are growing slim.

This week's Focus on Politics is RNZ's roundtable discussion covering the major happenings of the 2023 election campaign. RNZ political editor Jane Patterson, deputy political editor Craig McCulloch, and Newsroom and Stuff political editors Jo Moir and Luke Malpass spoke to Morning Report hosts Corin Dann and Ingrid Hipkiss. 

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