17 Sep 2014

Leaders clash over coalition partners

8:28 pm on 17 September 2014

John Key and David Cunliffe have clashed over possible coalition partners in the final televised debate of the election campaign.

The final leaders debate.

The final leaders debate Photo: TV One

The two men debated for half an hour in the TVNZ debate moderated by Mike Hosking.

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe warned voters about the consequences of re-electing a National Government which would need the support of "far right parties and weirdoes".

He said New Zealanders should be concerned at the prospect that the Conservative Party - on 4.9 percent in tonight's TV3 Reid Research Poll - could get into Parliament.

More on the story

National leader John Key criticised Labour, which he said with just 25 percent support in the polls, was not strong enough to lead a Government.

He warned that Labour would need the Internet party, funded by Kim Dotcom, if it was to form a Government.

John Key during the final debate.

John Key during the final debate. Photo: TV One

The two leaders also discussed which party would be the preferred partner of New Zealand First, which on the results tonight's poll could hold the balance of power.

Both Mr Key and Mr Cunliffe ruled out New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as a possible Prime Minister or Finance Minister, but wouldn't rule Mr Peters out as Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr Cunliffe argued that Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First had enough in common to form a Government, but Mr Key disagreed, he said Labour and the Greens could not agree among themselves and such a coalition would not be stable.

On the economy, Mr Key defended National's stewardship of the economy and warned the high taxes and regulations proposed by his opponents would not boost economic growth.

David Cunliffe speaks during the final debate.

David Cunliffe speaks during the final debate. Photo: TV One

But Mr Cunliffe said National had no strategy to introduce high value growth for the economy.

He said raising the minimum wage would be an early priority for his Government.

The leaders also discussed the Government Communications Security Bureau and the controversy over mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

John Key said the GCSB was not involved in mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

But he would not rule out other countries being involved.

He defended the work of the GCSB as being vital to protecting New Zealand's security.

Mr Cunliffe said he would hold a Royal Commission into the future of the intelligence agencies, and said New Zealanders deserved more clarity from Mr Key.

The debate ended with Mr Key predicting a similar result to that in the 2011 election, and Mr Cunliffe saying "this election is on a knife edge".

Read our live coverage of the debate below



David Cunliffe: "this election is on a knife edge".

John key says the result will be similar to that in the 2011 election.

Mike Hosking closes the debate by recommending people get out and vote.


John Key says he is trusting the New Zealand public. He says the politics from the left has all been negative.

David Cunliffe says he has no regrets in the campaign.

John Key regrets that there has not been a discussion of core issues during the campaign, with too much time spent discussing things New Zealanders do not care about it.


John Key predicts Labour will win Te Tai Tokerau, and National will take Hutt South of Labour.

David Cunliffe says Labour will win Napier off National.


Both leaders are now refusing to say if they will resign if they lose the election. They are both focussed on winning the election.

John Key won't talk about a "succession plan" and says he hopes to lead National again into the 2017 election.


Back from the break, and John Key is defending National's stewardship of the economy.

"You can choose to put lots of taxes and lots of regulation, but there isn't a businessperson who thinks that's the path to economic growth."


David Cunliffe says there is a mismatch between the skills available and the jobs on offer. He says National lacks a strategy for high value growth.

John Key is cut off as TVNZ heads into an ad break.


The subject is now the first 100 days after the election.

David Cunliffe mentions raising the minimum wage, and starting the Royal Commission into the security services. He says National has "no new ideas".

John Key is listing some of his policies - a free trade agreement with Korea, continuing to invest in education, infrastructure and science, and getting down the number of people on benefits.

All three people are now speaking at once!


David Cunliffe says National could be propped up by "extreme right wing parties that some people would call weirdoes".

John Key says National had been upfront about which parties it can work with.


Both John Key and David Cunliffe are now saying they can not say what could be agreed with New Zealand First until those discussions are held.

David Cunliffe is emphasising that there is enough in common between Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First to form a Government.

John Key says Labour and the Greens disagree on many points.


Back from the commercials and the next subject is Winston Peters.

Mr Cunliffe says he would not make Winston Peters Prime Minister or Finance Minister, but wouldn't comment on whether Mr Peters could be Deputy Prime Minister or Speaker.

Mr Key says National has lots of options for coalition building, but also would not rule out Mr Peters being Deputy Prime Minister.


The two leaders are talking over each other frequently.

John Key says a Labour led Government would have to include the Internet mana Party founded by Kim Dotcom, and that would mean the tail would wag the dog.

David Cunliffe denies that he would lead a Government that included the Internet Mana Party.

And this debate is on commercial television, so it is time for an ad break.


John Key says with Labour polling at 25 percent they are not in a strong position to lead a Government.


The subject is now the polls, and David Cunliffe says tonight's TV3 poll shows Labour could lead a Government, with the Greens and New Zealand First.

He says New Zealanders should be concerned at the prospect of the Conservatives - at 4.9 percent in the TV poll - could get into Parliament.

John Key says if New Zealanders want a stable Government, they must vote National.


David Cunliffe says the law passed last year should have included John Key's assurance that New Zealanders would not be the subject of mass surveillance.


John Key says as Prime Minister, he was advised New Zealand needed to look at protecting its cyber-security.

He says there is no mass surveillance undertaken by the GCSB, but he won't talk about the capabilities of the other Five Eyes partners.


The first subject is the GSCB and mass surveillance.

David Cunliffe says the Government has not been clear enough.

"That isn't good enough for New Zealanders".


The final televised debate of this campaign between John Key and David Cunliffe is under way.

John Key is in a dark suit with a blue polka dot tie, David Cunliffe is wearing a dark suit with a red tie, and the moderator, Mike Hosking, is in a dark suit with a silver tie.

  • Our full election coverage
  • Columns - which takes in Fact or Fiction, Poll of Polls, Power Play, and Analysis
  • Leader Video Profiles
  • The Big Issues
  • Ask Away
  • Find out who's standing in your electorate