23 Sep 2020

Jacinda Ardern, Judith Collins face off in first TV election debate

6:56 am on 23 September 2020

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and National leader Judith Collins have faced off in their first televised election debate.

The debate on TVNZ, moderated by John Campbell, featured live New Zealand Sign Language translation and came after the release of the latest 1News Colmar Brunton poll.

Collins said she'll be pointing out a "lack of follow-through" by the Labour leader while for Jacinda Ardern it was less about "sparring" than "directly communicating".

Ahead of their first debate of the election campaign, both would have been studying their policies and promises.

National Party leader Judith Collins said she was looking forward to it.

"I'll do my best and I will be there to point out all the big promises that have been made in the past and the incredible lack of follow-through that we have seen from the current prime minister."

As for how she'll perform - "you'll have to wait and see".

Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern says "I'll go through exactly the same preparation I did for the last debate, just making sure I spend a bit of time going over those issues that I know New Zealanders want to hear from us around - whilst at the same time managing the campaign".

She said she did not necessarily have a different debating approach for different leaders.

"Probably in part because I see the debates as being an opportunity for us each as leaders to share our own vision and our own plans so I spend a little less time thinking about sparring with the person opposite and just directly communicating what our plans are."

Ahead of the debate, Collins cleared her schedule for Tuesday and Ardern was attending just one event this morning.

The previous Colmar Brunton poll released on 30 July had support for Labour at 53 percent, National at 32 percent, NZ First at 2 percent, the Greens at 5 percent, and ACT at 5 percent.

The parties' finance spokespeople will also be in a separate debate in Queenstown this evening.

See how it all unfolded with RNZ's live updates here:

Read more about the 2020 election: