Election moved to October 17; Parliament to dissolve on September 6; Treasury's pre-election economic update deferred; Most political parties support decision but National only 'acknowledges' it

Election moved to October 17; Parliament to dissolve on September 6; Treasury's pre-election economic update deferred; Most political parties support decision but National only 'acknowledges' it

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has deferred the general election by four weeks from September 19 to October 17.

The dissolution of Parliament will be pushed out to September 6, so MPs will return to Parliament on Tuesday if they can travel.

Treasury will release its Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update (PREFU) sometime between September 7 and 21, instead of on Thursday as previously planned. Under the Public Finance Act, the PREFU must be published between 20 and 30 working days before the general election.

Ardern said she wouldn't change the election date again. The Electoral Commission does however have the power to do so. 

She said the Electoral Commission had since April planned for a range of scenarios, including to hold an election with some of the country at Level 3 and the rest at Level 2. 

While she said there was "no suggestion at this point" that New Zealand would be at these alert levels come September 19, Ardern considered people's abilities to vote, the opportunity political parties have to campaign and the need to provide certainty around a date.

Ardern said she didn’t give weight to any particular political party in her decision-making.

She expected a number of people (in the order of 60%) to vote early, when advanced voting opens on October 3.

The politics

National, which wanted the election moved to November 21, "acknowledged" the change of date. It didn't say it supported it. 

New Zealand First supported it, even though it also advocated for a change to November 21.

The Green Party welcomed the date, as did ACT. ACT had wanted the election to be held after the country had been at Level 1 for four weeks. 

The practicalities

The Electoral Commission confirmed it could revise its arrangements to hold an election on October 17.

It will now confirm voting places and contact the more than 25,000 people who will work on the election.

If New Zealand is at Level 2 come October 17, there will be contact tracing, hand sanitiser and physical distancing in voting places. Protective gear will also be given to staff if needed. The plan is to have more voting places and longer voting times to reduce queues.

Under higher alert levels, the Electoral Commission said voting papers can be delivered to small clusters of people and then picked up again. 

It said other ways of voting are available for people who cannot go to a voting place. People can apply for postal voting by calling 0800 36 76 56.

More on Ardern's thinking

Ardern explained her decision:

Moving an election date, especially this late in the electoral cycle is a significant decision. In the end what matters most is what is in the best interests of voters and our democracy. Any decision to review the election date must be as free from partisan political interests as possible.

It is fair to say that there are a broad range of views amongst political parties, and that complete consensus is unlikely. But there were some areas of agreement – the need for certainty was one.

In this respect, the calculation around when to hold an election is not an easy one. COVID is continuing to disrupt life around the world. Pushing an election out by several months, for instance, does not lessen the risk of disruption. This will in part be the reason why many countries have held elections while managing COVID, including South Korea, Singapore and Poland.

Weighing up each of these issues, and the feedback of a broad range of interests, I have sought and received advice from the Electoral Commission on a range of options, including retaining the current date of the 19th of September, moving the election by 4 weeks to the 17th of October, and the final possible date the Electoral Commission considers the election could realistically be held, which is the 21st of November.

Having weighed up all of these factors, and taken wide soundings, I have decided on balance to move the election by 4 weeks to the 17th of October.

At the end of last week I was advised that this date is achievable, and presents no greater risk than had we retained the status quo. I have also been advised that in moving to a 17 October election day, the Commission will be able to leverage and draw on much of the work already undertaken to deliver the election.

Beginning early voting during school holidays, while having the downside of some people moving around the country, would mean that some additional facilities would become available for early voting. 

The biggest risk to be overcome, will be ensuring access to the election day workforce, which includes some 25,000 workers. This has been identified as a risk no matter what day is chosen.

I did consider the possibility of moving the election by the same amount of time that we anticipate Auckland will be in Level three – a period of two weeks. I was advised by the Electoral Commission that this would not provide them with enough time to rebook venues, print materials, and reorganise the election workforce.

Ultimately, the 17th of October, in approximately 9 weeks’ time, provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under, for the Electoral Commission to prepare, and for voters to feel assured of a safe, accessible, credible election.

More on political parties' responses

National leader Judith Collins said: “We acknowledge the new date.

“It was always National’s view that to have a fair, democratic election we needed to deal with this second wave of Covid-19 so politicians from all parties had a reasonable chance to present their policies, and the public felt comfortable engaging with the campaign without putting their health at risk.

“Recalling Parliament is the right move at this time with our largest city in lockdown and the recent system failure that saw testing among border staff fall well short of what it should have been.

“The country is in a difficult situation and the political decisions we make to get us through this should be scrutinised by elected representatives. All voices must be heard if we are to move forward as a united team.

“National has supported all Covid-19 response legislation that has gone through Parliament to date.

“The Opposition is willing to work constructively alongside the Government to deliver the health and economic response to this crisis that New Zealanders deserve, with many having sacrificed their jobs, their businesses and their livelihoods during lockdown.”

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said: “We believe the date change to October 17 achieves that fine balance during a very challenging time.

“We have been incredibly disappointed to see the National and other small parties continue to use the weekend to bang on about what would suit them best politically when it comes to the Election Day date.

“Frankly, many New Zealanders would have heard loud and clear that these parties prioritise their potential electoral successes over the health of our communities, and the strength of our democratic institutions.”

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said: “New Zealand First is pleased that common sense has prevailed. We were concerned that the Covid outbreak had the effect of limiting campaigns to an unacceptably short period until overseas and advance voting begin if the General Election was held on September 19.

“As I said yesterday, voters are sovereign. Holding an election during a COVID outbreak has the risk of serious interference in our democracy. Voters would be expected to exercise their electoral rights with a dearth of information and that is unacceptable.

“With a delay Parties can now prepare to begin campaigning again, confident that they have the time and resources to engage in a free and fair election.

“New Zealand First will now be looking at our campaign strategy to ensure that we can to get back out on the campaign trail as soon as safely possible.”

ACT Leader David Seymour said: “The Prime Minister has done the right thing by delaying the election and allowing voters to properly participate in the election.

“ACT believes a free and fair contest requires that we have four weeks at Level 1 in the run up to Election Day. If the Government manages to contain the Auckland outbreak, and we don't have further lockdowns, then today’s decision will allow that to happen.

“In order to have a free and fair election, candidates need to be out in the community listening to voters, and that’s not possible while Aucklanders are housebound.

“In the past week alone, because of Auckland’s Level 3 lockdown, I have had to cancel more than a dozen events, including debates and community meetings. The extra time will allow a proper contest of ideas.

“This delay might create some political uncertainty, but it will be trivial compared with the concerns households and businesses have as a result of the Government’s incompetence on public health."

Key dates

  • August 17: Business committee meets to agree a parliament timetable
  • September 6: Parliament dissolves
  • September 13: Writ Day, nominations close 18 September
  • September 30: Overseas voting begins
  • October 3: Advance voting begins, last day for return of the writ is 12 November
  • October 17: Election day
  • October 30: Preliminary referendum results released
  • November 6: Official results for election and referendums declared

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91 Comments

15
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Some more time for Winston Peters to enjoy time in parliament.

hope he gets a leaving party, should be his last time

14
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As far as I can see, he is the only MP to ever sit in six different decades. That's an impressive feat. Whether it's been useful or not, however...

Yes , and that has been a asset . He can point out hypocrisy from both parties , because he can always remember when they did the opposite while he was with them .
but I think its time for him to retire, its a pity he could not come up with a successor , i think Tracey Martin could be the one , if she had another term .

Very good entertainment and sometimes educational value. He has served well, in the larger scheme of things.

And those two Chinese dudes.

good to see them asking questions about the non testing of all employees weekly at jet park.
she skirted over the amount or lack of testing at the border for all front facing staff

19
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I voted Nats in the last few elections but I must admit this move shows strength on the part of our PM. The Labour party has the most to lose at this stage by deferring the election, allowing more time for the opposition and her devious coalition partners to spread misinformation.

On the other end, we have a bunch of party leaders who have their political self-interest at heart and are fooling nobody when pretending their pressure on the government to delay elections are for the benefit of NZers.

Who would you rather have at the helm in the time of crisis?!

'Who would you rather have at the helm in the time of crisis?!'

It's a good question. Gut feeling I'd say Ardern.
I don't like Collins, but....maybe her hard-line view of things is better suited to what we need in this crisis, in terms of protocols?

14
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JA/GR. And I think Hipkins is an asset now too, big improvement.

18
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Collins is only good at attacking. I actually fell asleep during her interview on "The Nation". She is quite boring.

22
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Also Collins would be focused on 'free enterprise' which means opening up our boarders asap to welcome in the virus with more cheap migrants and flog the rest of NZ off to the highest bidder.

adelaide are doing a trial next month of bringing in 300 students from china, will be interesting to watch to see how it works, i suspect well for the first few flights then once things slacken off that will be the real test
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/international-student-...

Interesting that they're trying. The numbers are tiny though and it's hard to see how it could scale.

I watched her interview on Sunday program last night and was left feeling really underwhelmed. She is clearly a high performing MP and has a reputation for getting things done but she doesn't espouse great leadership qualities in my opinion. Certainly not someone that can bring the country along with her vision for NZ - an important role for the PM of any country.

She reminded me of that funny Aunt you get stuck sitting next to at a wedding - nice cheese cake however.

I had a chuckle when she was 'herding' her lot along for the interview shots in the Parliamentary precinct. She called out "C'mon Goldie" to Paul Goldsmith. And I thought, less like a sheepdog and more like a peacock doing the herding. You could see the discomfort of those asked to participate in the 'staging', including her 'tusk, tusk' after asking Shane Reti whether he had had his briefing yet.

A well decorated peacock ?

Judith Collins is obviously not the leader of choice for Nats - evident from the fact she's had 3 failed attempts to leadership since March 2016, and finally made it last month by taking advantage of a power vacuum in the party.

Secondly, she is clearly intending to take NZ back to the 'glory' days of the Key-English regime instead of making a commitment to fixing broken parts of our economy (and there is plenty wrong with the way we did things pre-Covid).
Her policy around bring more low-wage migrants and more international students will create growth off the backs of low-value business activity, oligopolies and speculative practices in NZ.

I found her interview boring too. Not genuine and not engaging.

10
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Yeah I would prefer Collins. The leniency that Ardern gave to Clarke illustrates two things...1. She is too emotionally connected to her party members no matter how useless they might be (think Kelvin Davis and tourism as well) and 2. She has no confidence in any replacement. She had to save Hipkins from a disastrous education portfolio and give him something that he surely couldn't bugger up. Oh wait. Imagine Collins in charge - everyone would be so obedient and fearful of failure that hardly anything would go wrong. I would prefer these characteristics in my leader through a crisis like we have.

14
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Scared s**tless is not a managerial style that gets the best out of people.

13
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Would be immensely better than the current approach which isn't working at all.

Seems to be working well to me..

Hipkins is still in charge of the Education portfolio. He’s busy merging all the Polytechs and ITOs atm. And moving schools online. Universities can’t be changed - too difficult!

Imagine Collins in charge - everyone would be so obedient and fearful of failure that hardly anything would go wrong.

I had to re-read this to see if I missed the /sarcasm tag somewhere. Not that I believe the reality of Collins' leadership would be anything like this, but this sort of culture does not engender success. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/26/opinion/coronavirus-japan-abe.html is a good article that touches on this aspect:

The Japanese bureaucracy is notoriously dominated by a culture of “kotonakare shugi” (literally, “no-problem-ism”), which prioritizes stability and conformity, and shuns anything that might rock the institutional boat. Sound the alarm about an impending crisis and you might be blamed for causing it.

Yeah, organizations with potential for 'human error' like healthcare try to foster the opposite attitude as a blaming / punitive culture just leads to cover-up of accidents and therefore no improvement to the systems and processes that led to the error.

Might be the Papakura fudged burglary numbers under Collins all over again.

I have that hanging on my wall "The Beatings will continue until Moral Improves " Works a treat with my staff, I get new ones every couple of weeks.

Advisor/Fritz - You must think about the future Labour cannot perform , think about if there was another major earthquake no money due to the current crisis
This funny money is not real

As per my comment yesterday, there are two key questions re: earthquakes:

- If one struck over the next year, how would that be managed in the context of the covid 19 public health crisis?
- how would we reconcile the economic devastation of that alongside the economic devastation arising from covid?

I really hope they have thought about this.

You can only play the cards infront of you Fritz. More accurately, any government has to prioritise.
What if the COVID pandemic had hit shortly after the CHCH earthquakes, is a similar question? What if a meteor hit Wellington tomorrow? What if MBovis went rampant again next week? What if the US declares war on China?

But... they can just print more. What could possibly go wrong with that?

It's rather shrewd as well, as I think it's correct that now the date is set and after parliament is dissolved, only the electoral commission can further delay the election. So the decision is taken out of the PMs hands, which limits how much the opposition can gain by blaming the election as undemocratic.

I would like to see somebody do an analysis of typical leadership qualities on our current crop of political leaders. I would suggest that somebody like Collins would fare poorly in areas such as integrity and empathy as a start.

She has a lot of integrity. Far more than "we have the right to govern" Jacinda. She doesn't have a lot of empathy- I grant that. But I believe too much empathy can be a burden to sound utilitarian decision making. She has enough to be a good leader though.

16
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Oh yes. The highest of ethical codes has Judith Collins.
https://www.newshub.co.nz/politics/timeline-judith-collins-and-oravida-2...
Suprising that with such high integrity she let Brownlie pursue a lie of conspiracy theory nonsense and blatant misinformation just last week.

Bill English and 'integrity' are synonymous. Judith Collins, and 'integrity' is a real stretch.

meanwhile Jacinda takes her boyfriend to the islands for a fishing trip on the public purse. Right.

14
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You mean the father of her infant child?
Partner travel is an allowance which has been afforded to and used by all recent Prime Ministers. Even the great John Key was well known to exercise his right to it.

10
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I still remember the pics of Key's son enjoying the priviledge of flying at the taxpayers expense - the air force as John Key's ersonal family airline!

Doesn't make it right. Agree that Key was just as bad. The point here was that the trip to the Islands was not necessary and given Gayford's love of tropical fishing waters, was a pisstake junket on the pubic purse. Besides, if I go on a three-day work trip, I don't take my partner and kids.

13
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She has a lot of integrity.

Integrity
noun
1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Yeah right.

Please don't quote the dictionary! It's an unwritten rule of message boards.

It sorta is pretty important here though, right?
You obviously didn't realise what the word meant, so it was pertinent for Kate to educate you on that.

Really? Did Judith tell you that?

I think you forced her hand with your outlandish claim of Collin's having integrity. Judith has a long history of dodgy dealings that suggest otherwise. Clearly you have a poor understanding of the word's meaning if you believe it's applicable to her.

I forced her hand just as much as Winny forced Jacinda's hand in changing the election date. Oh wait. Jacinda denied that and because she is so honest, it couldn't possibly have happened.

Kotare, do you mind me asking where you get your news from to come to the conclusion that Judith Collins has integrity and Jacinda Adern doesn't?

Shill or intellectually challenged are the only two reasons I can think of. It's like someone claiming that Trump is a highly regarded intellectual who is known for rational thought and policy. Nope.

Judith's had years of dodgy dealings that suggest otherwise.

- Stroubek dogyness and lies (giving a mate's mate a visa despite him being a convicted drug smuggler)
- Military pay rises which were promised and never happened
- Signing the TPP when that was a no no in opposition
- Clare Curran. Need I say more
- The tax working group and Cullen. A waste of money from the beginning (winny had already said no)
- Giving money to Winny and Jones to buy votes.
- Not taking ownership of youth abuse at a labour camp
- Kiwibuild and the failures (oh - sorry, recalibration)
- Child poverty rates which have increased under a well-being budget
- Richie hardcore. Need I say more
- Indian student help which never happened despite promises
- David Clarke - need I say more
- Suicide rates have been ignored despite being an election priority
- Smoke free 2025 legislation and a cannibis referendum (I mean seriously)
- Mental health and well-being budget and a cannibis referendum (I mean seriously, again)
- Auckland fuel tax for a rail project that wont happen
- Where is the Buller hospital that she promised?
- Etc
- Etc
- Etc

The year of delivery.

This integrity comment is surely satire.

15
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Moving the General Election to October seems a sensible enough decision given the circumstances.

November used to be the normal month for most previous elections? 2011, 2008, ...

Perhaps they feel that November could be difficult since there's another major general election going on around that time which the whole world will be watching. I wouldn't be surprised if Trump tried delay their US General Election by a couple of years since he's not really doing anything much to help prevent the virus infection rates over there.

Why does timing of a US election have any impact on election timing for NZ?

NZers might get confused and vote Biden

"up until 2014 every election was in November except for the three snap elections (and the elections just after them, as they must be held within around 38 months of the last one).

It was only in 2014 that it was held early, and that was to avoid the G20 meeting NZ had been invited to.

So if the election is delayed until November, that is not a big issue. November is the traditional month anyway."
https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2020/08/november_elections_are_the_norm.html

Good, even if it's only so Judarth will have nothing to whinge about when she loses.

Can't wait to see what comes up in that Parliamentary timetable. What a nightmare for those in the administration of the machinery of government.

They all deserve a bonus, including the Healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, administrators, etc.

How about the ones administering the quarantining regime?

I would hope during this extended period ,all of New Zealand's politicians, can provide a sound policy framework for how they intend to fully obtain , manufacture if feasible, store and effectively distribute and roll out a vaccine programme for the 5 million, irrespective of when that vaccine becomes available.

Still leaves a quandary for whom to vote. Act, Nats, Greens and Winston first are out for me which means Labour as well so I guess other than the referendums its a no show. First time in 20 years. Only problem is a no vote favours someone and I think that's usually the Nats. Something about Labour voters not turning out if the weather is bad, no major issues to get upset about.

I'll vote minority that are likely to get a seat. Labour will probably win but you need a sound and diverse opposition/coalition to hold power to account. Labour are behaving like third termers so we need quality scrutiny from smaller parties. The worst outcome would be Labour governing alone.

Labour (& Greens) haveing a 100% say would be scary.

10
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I'm more scared of National and the New Conservatives TBH.

The one thing I tell people when they are stuck who to vote for, is to vote for your country/community rather than for yourself. I believe the former option has a greater chance of success in the long term than the latter.

In that case please don’t come on here posting comments complaining about the elected government post election.

Correct, Good move. Hope Covid doesn't play spoilsport, again.

A lot of comments about how wonderful Cindy is.
Kiwi build ? Covid back many of our front line workers not tested that shows real competence
Now we are playing with borrowed money
Team of 5 million? BE KIND...….

17
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FYI when I see "Cindy" I assume the rest of the comment is also childish dreck and disregard the lot. Grow up please.

Back to this chauvinistic bull eh? You clearly have nothing to say.

The Coalition have failed as Covid has returned after we supposedly went hard and fast. In doing that we have destroyed our economy and it has still returned because of their incompetence at the border. People I speak to believe we need to learn to live with it. A third outbreak will show just how utterly useless they are as after all we are surrounded by water and all we have to do as they tell us is quarantine the people we allow to come in. Todays decision shows that Winston has always been the Prime Minister in every way but name.

10
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No offense but he people you talk to do not represent the majority of kiwis views

Albert how many outbreaks do you think our economy can survive? I can only presume you are retired and comfortable or on a salary that does not get affected by Covid 19.

What does learn to live with it actually mean? Lock up the elderly? 3/4 of my young family have an underlying health condition that places us at serious detriment if we were to acquire COVID and we aren’t the only ones. We know from the US experience that pasifica people are over represented in the health stats. If this virus was left to its own devices it would decimate huge numbers of people in these communities in Auckland. That’s not an outcome I believe most kiwis want to pursue. I agree the testing at the border or lack of it was extremely gut wrenching but if we can make this as watertight as possible and ramp up our tracing technology then short hard regional intermittent restrictions are the best option to optimize the health and therefore economic outcomes.

Depends how often, how long they last, etc.
If for example we have to lockdown just Auckland for 14 days of every 114, and assuming Auckland makes up 1/3 of the economy, and assuming Auckland's economy ran at 50% during lockdown, that would be a 2% drop in economic activity nationwide overall. I doubt there is currently any alternative that is better than that, I am certain that "accepting" the virus will cause a bigger hit.

"People you speak to"...I would choose my aquaintances more carefully.

10
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we have destroyed our economy

I wish you'd quit with the hyperbole. Honestly, the incessant whining about how the economy is 'ruined' is tiresome, I've heard enough of this from Boatman recently to last a lifetime!

Where is your perspective? Most people still have jobs, most people still have food, most people still have shelter, most people still have power, most people can go out and about near-normally. You make it sounds like we're dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear Armageddon.

I'd hate to see how you snowflakes would cope in an real economic crisis.

Snowflakes. Pot calling the kettle black. I am talking to people well retired and not exactly fit. They wanted the generations following them to have a reasonable life including financial well-being. Please answer me . Do we go to level 3 or 4 every time we have an outbreak.The wages subsidy has us in la la land. We will se some nasty data in due course.

13
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And you think letting a virus run loose will instill 'economic confidence' and that things will 'just go back' to the way things were? That ship has sailed. Either way we're going to take an economic hit.

To answer your question, yes. We need to go back to level 3/4 in the areas that have an outbreak if we're serious about keeping it at bay. That's the price we pay for the periods of near-freedom in between.

I also have no doubt there'll be nasty data. But in case you haven't yet realized, worldwide every country has 'nasty data' coming out. There's no way this isn't going to cause some economic pain, but I'd sooner take the odd lock down if it means sustained periods of covid-free living and freedom to do what I want over what's happened in most countries abroad, with perpetual half-assed lockdowns and the covid-related morbidity.

I am talking to people well retired and not exactly fit. They wanted the generations following them to have a reasonable life including financial well-being.

Man, where have these people and their voices and their votes been over the last decade plus, as we've been mortgaging our children and grandchildren's future on the altar of the sacred property investment, and central government - despite campaigning on it - has only perpetuated and exacerbated it? Did they vote for more tax cuts, property subsidies, and John's smile-and-wave attitude to elections and anti-money laundering legislation?

You don't think borrowing $140billion to cover the shortfall of the next few years is destructive? That's the best part of 10% of GDP per year, or $50k debt lumped on each of the roughly half of NZers who are in households that are net tax payers. It's more that 2x the rate of debt increase after the GFC+ Earthquakes, and illustrates appalling profligacy and financial management from Labour. They wasting decades of careful economic management in wasteful splurge of low-quality spending.

Who cares? Haven't you realized that no country is going to repay their debts. It's all just make-believe and keeping confidence in the system at this point.

Would you prefer it instead if we avoided borrowing, cut spending and stimulus and just entered a depression now? If so, I'm sure that'll do wonders for consumer spending and overall economic confidence.

@ ex agent, To quote you: "destroyed our economy"! Real Estate Agents like you should be loving it! Haven't you heard that the NZ housing market is on the rise and places like Queenstown are positively booming at lest in property sales. Perhaps having low virus outbreaks is having more of a positive effect for the likes of you then you would care to consider.

You must have it wrong. The economy was destroyed due to our lockdown. Now no one has any jobs, no shops are open, there's no water or power, people are starving. In fact, I'm not even typing this from New Zealand as there isn't electricity or internet there since this disaster happened. Please spread the word.

I had a low opinion of Collins/Brownlee anyway, but their campaign of smears and innuendo was way beyond what should be regarded as legitimate politics. It was just grubby.

Brownlee did subsequently say that 'he had gone into a dark place', but I heard nothing from Collins. She is not fit to be the country's PM.

It looked to me as if he had been instructed to provide that innuendo/comment by Judith.

I think your statement is the actual definition of innuendo... a bit of unintended humor perhaps ?

True, purely speculative on my part.

Four more weeks of listening to the "I can't figure out who to vote for" mix tape. Asteroid/Tsunami 2020