7 Nov 2022

Minor parties sound warning against political point-scoring

5:33 pm on 7 November 2022


Smaller political parties are calling for unity, saying the latest poll results show people are sick of politicking - while touting their own consistent or growing support.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll out last night showed a nearly six-point drop since April - to 32 percent - for the governing Labour Party.

On the poll's numbers, National - up 0.2 points to 40 percent - would be able to form a government with the ACT Party, which was up 3.6 points to 10 percent.

Labour has played down the results, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern telling Morning Report Labour's own polling was much more frequent and showed the major parties were neck-and-neck.

National's deputy leader Nicola Willis said it was a good result for the party but pointed to the fickle nature of polling, saying it was clear next year's election would be very close.

ACT leader David Seymour said the poll showed a mood for change, but National and ACT would need each other.

"Labour and the Greens have certainly shown enormous rhetorical dexterity in selling a better vision but at the end of the day government is a kind of service industry where you take a certain amount of tax and you need to deliver services that work in return.

"In so many areas, whether it's law and order, education or health, they've certainly done the taxing part but they haven't done the delivering part."

He said if ACT and National were able to form a government next year, ACT's role would be to "make sure the change is real".

"That we address the size of government both as a spender and as a regulator, because there's far too much beating down of people who try to make a difference and far too little consequence for people who are breaking the law and menacing others.

"The challenges people tell me about every day are lawlessness, economic mismanagement and treaty division. What people would like to see is proper law and order, real wage growth in a growing economy and a treaty that is a source of unity rather than division."

The Green Party had a smaller 1.1 point increase to 9.5 percent, which co-leader Marama Davidson said showed consistent support for a minor party in government over two terms.

"It also says people are supportive of what we came in to do, which is prioritise action on the climate, protecting our environment, and pushing for everyone to be able to live with dignity and have what they need to live good lives."

The Greens have traditionally partnered with Labour, citing an ideological divide with National too great to allow them to work together.

Davidson said Labour's declining popularity was a matter for the Labour Party, but argued it was doing too little considering the parliamentary majority it won in 2020.

"That's for them to sort out. We've been really clear that there are levers that we would like to see them pull more, especially with the massive support that they came into government with. The ability for people to be able to pay their rent, pay their housing and buy kai is obviously at the front of everyone's minds.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

"We are seeing MMP in action, actually, across consistent polls - and I think this is positive for people. We're just going to focus on putting ourselves out there, the Green Party is a solid, solid choice for people who want to see real solutions for people to live and have what they need."

She said the Greens' proposal last week for an excess profits tax would be one of their main policy planks which could help rebalance the inequality crisis.

"It's immoral that there are corporations and companies who are making excess profits for no other reason than for the luck of the market and the world right now.

"There will be other policy planks but the Greens have always led on progressive tax systems, we've led consistently over several elections and several terms. This is another example of the Greens being well ahead when it comes to a tax system that is actually fair for people."

Te Pāti Māori was down 0.6 points to 1.9 percent, but co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer highlighted the fairly consistent numbers across multiple polls.

"If you were to look across all the polls that have been going on for the last year and a bit Te Pāti Māori's still been consistent ... and I think that's because we're not distracted with other lacklustre rhetoric.

"The polls will come and go. It's going to be a long year, clearly, but I think the messages that we've seen consistently - even in mainstream polls - is that we are being supported but most importantly what we're seeing on the ground and the participation and support that we're receiving has been second to none.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

"We're seeing ourselves being sung about, we're hearing ourselves being spoken about in the debates, we're seeing petitions that are achieving record support."

She said people were sick of the back-and-forth politics and point-scoring between the major parties.

"The left and the right can yell at each other all they want - what people that we're hearing from actually want to know is what is the action you're doing, how are you holding the government and the opposition to account?"

She held up Labour's new childcare policy as an example, the latest in a series of policies from both major parties she said were "lacklustre".

The policy - announced as Labour's flagship for its party conference in Auckland this weekend - would see childcare subsidies increase for the first time since 2010, with eligibility expanded to higher wage thresholds.

"That, you know, 'let's put a policy out that encourages people to go to work' - that's great, but why don't we have a policy that encourages people to stay home and be great parents and look after their children?" she said.

"Looking after children and being a parent is the most important role in the world and I think that if we continue to go down this route where the left's going to beat its drum and the right's going to beat its drum but none of them are being innovative in how to grow and address ourselves as a nation, we are always going to have this back and forth.

"I do think that a lot of the policies coming out from both big parties are pretty lacklustre to be really honest."

New Zealand First was voted out at the last election, but leader Winston Peters was confident of making a return. The party doubled its support in the latest poll, increasing 1.6 points to 3.3 percent.

In typical fashion, Peters refused to speak about the polling, but was happy to open up about the party's momentum.

"We've taken our campaign under the radar so to speak and we've got literally no media coverage whatsoever but we've taken our campaign to the ordinary people around the country - and the halls and attendances have been fantastic.

"We're building very, very fast and our latest conference showed that there is tremendous enthusiasm, lots of rejuvenation, and all we have to do is keep our ears open on our listening tour and work hard and we're confident of the outcome."

No caption

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

He said the increases for ACT and National were more related to Labour's performance in government this term.

"When you go to a campaign like Labour did in 2020 with a manifesto and making promises and you throw them out the window the day after the election and you bring out your secret agenda when you've got no consent, no mandate, then people are not going to take it - and that's what's happening.

"You've got these woke pet projects costing literally billions of dollars as the government's focus and that's why Labour's in serious, serious trouble."

His own views on the state of political debate seemed to align somewhat with Ngarewa-Packer's, describing the major parties' clashes over tax policy as "historic, nostalgic, and juvenile".

"There is that view - and sadly you see it in the mainstream media - that goes something like this: 'Well, it's our turn now', that's what one side might be saying, or 'they couldn't do worse than the last bunch'.

"Those sentiments are dramatically bad for New Zealand because we need to have a serious change with economic and social progress to go forward. We are a country with serious, very sound resources. But many of the things we should be doing far better on are not happening because they've never been a focus."

He said New Zealand needed to be getting back to thinking of itself as among the best in the world.

"And remembering who we're governing for - and it's not for political elites and it's not for ideology. We're governing for the ordinary New Zealander and our future has got to be better than the one we've got now."

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