31 Aug 2017

Ardern v English: Leaders' clash gets heated

9:01 pm on 31 August 2017

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and National leader Bill English have gone head to head in the first TV leaders debate.

Jacinda Ardern and Bill English at the TV1 debate tonight.

Jacinda Ardern and Bill English at the TV1 debate tonight. Photo: Screenshot / TVNZ

The pair clashed over a range of issues in the TV1 debate moderated by Mike Hosking, especially over tax cuts and housing.

The latest 1 News Colmar Brunton poll released just an hour ahead of the debate put Labour ahead of National for the first time in a decade.

Check out RNZ's full election coverage here and Mr English and Ms Ardern's leader profiles.

The first ring of steel came when Ms Ardern raised the issue of house prices.

"Housing affordability is the worst we've seen in such a long time ... we've had the worst home ownership in 60 years," she said.

Mr English said that was "not true".

Ms Ardern asked him if a $150,000 deposit for a home in Auckland was acceptable.

She then had to defend her party's plan to set up a committee to consider bringing in a capital gains tax.

"I'll give you the values that I'm going into this review with," she explained.

But Bill launched into the first zinger of the night: "People can't go shopping with your values. They need to know what impact removing their tax deductions is going to have."

People on the average wage would be $1000 a year worse off under Labour, he said.

Jacinda Ardern and Bill English during the first leaders debate.

Photo: Screenshot / TVNZ

The debate then turned to the economy.

"Productivity in New Zealand has grown pretty well," Mr English said, but Ms Ardern hit back.

"Productivity is flat lining at best."

When it came to medicinal cannabis the pair had 30 seconds to a explain whether their government would legalise it for medical use.

Ms Ardern said she "didn't need 30 seconds because, yes, absolutely".

Mr English was less certain.

"Cannabinoid products still needed to go through the proper process," he said.

On the issue of immigration the pair were also split, with Jacinda Ardern saying a Labour government would reduce the number of migrants coming to New Zealand from 70,000 by about 20,000-30,000 a year.

Mr English queried who would build the houses and work the farms if that happened.

"Someone has to pick the kiwifruit, someone has to milk the cows and someone has to drive the trucks," he said.

Ms Ardern said the problem was that most were going to Auckland, not the regions.

"My question is, is every one of those migrants getting a decent shot at life?"

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