Cunliffe offers free doctors visits and prescriptions to over 65s; NZ First offers NZ$1,000 per baby KiwiSaver; Peters' jokes fall flat

Cunliffe offers free doctors visits and prescriptions to over 65s; NZ First offers NZ$1,000 per baby KiwiSaver; Peters' jokes fall flat

By Bernard Hickey

With under six weeks to go until the September 20 election, here's my daily round-up of political news on Monday August 10, including Labour Leader David Cunliffe appealing for pensioners' votes with a promise of free doctors' visits and prescriptions, and Winston Peters offering KiwiSaver for babies.

David Cunliffe launched Labour's campaign on Sunday at the Viaduct Events centre in downtown Auckland in a speech titled 'Ready to Win' .

He made a direct pitch to the elderly and young parents with a promise to make doctors visits and prescriptions free for anyone over the age of 65 and under the age of 13.

The free visits and prescriptions would also be available to pregnant women already entitled to free primary care, along with free dental visits. Here's Labour's full policy document. Labour costed the policy at NZ$280 million a year.

Cunliffe painted a bleak picture of another three years under National.

"Our rivers will be dirty. What’s left of our assets will be sold. And so will vast tracts of our land. We will be tenants in our own country," he said.

'Spray and walk away'

Elsewhere, Winston Peters launched New Zealand First's campaign at the Kelston Community Hall in West Auckland with a speech "in pursuit of economic nationalism."

He attacked the Australian ownership of banks, media companies, insurers and manufacturers.

"Much of the criticism that will come our way will not be the result of independent comment or analysis, but from the fourth estate wanting to shape and direct the political affairs of the nation to suit their owners," he said.

Peters announced New Zealand First would extend KiwiSaver to newborns and allow funds to be withdrawn for tertiary fees. The Government would provide a NZ$1,000 kickstart and the policy would cost about NZ$60 million.

But it was some slightly risque comments Peters made off the script of the speech that made the headlines. He said John Key's claim that Labour had also approved farm sales did not justify National's policy.

"Just because your predecessor did it too does not make your actions sensible. As they say in Beijing, two Wongs don't make a white," he said. He later accused journalists of having a humour bypass when they asked about the comment.

"It's called humour. I know that in Beijing they think it's funny, and so do I," he said. Peters also later referred to John Key as "Mr Spray and Walk Away," in a comment about the Government's approach to migrants receiving superannuation under the parents of migrants category.

Colin Craig legal action

The election campaign is in full swing now.

The weekend began early on Friday with Conservative Leader Colin Craig taking legal action to force his way onto The Nation's debate for minor party leaders on Saturday morning in Auckland. The injunction was successful and for a brief moment it appeared the show would be cancelled altogether. But TV3 relented and built another podium in the studio for Craig.

Brook Sabin judged Winston Peters the strongest performer and said Colin Craig was "missing a spark plug."

Winston Peters made a point of not attacking Metiria Turei .

Epsom was the focus on the debate on TVNZ's Q+A , where there wasdebate between the candidates . A Colmar Brunton survey of Epsom voters found 45% said they would vote for ACT's David Seymour and 31% would vote for National's Paul Goldsmith, but only after the 28% unaware of John Key's direction to National voters to vote for Seymour were told of the deal.

The current (pre-deal information) support levels had Goldsmith at 44% and Seymour at 32%. The poll also found surprisingly high party support for Green. It found party vote support in Epsom for National at 60%, Green at 16%, Labour at 14%, NZ First at 3%, ACT at 3%, Conservative at 2%, Internet Mana at 2% and Maori at 1%.

School zoning in Epsom

Goldsmith said on Q+A he was campaigning for the party vote only in Epsom. Seymour said ACT favoured removing school zoning (a very touchy subject in Epsom), but it would be the last restriction ACT removed from schools after improving them all first.

"Secondly, we have to consider the property rights of people who have bought into school zones with the expectation of sending their kids to a given school," he said, adding removing zoning was not a priority for ACT and pointing to his involvement in a campaign to block any changes to the zoning in One Tree Hill.

I'll keep updating this diary throughout the day.

See all my previous election diaries here.

See the index for's special election policy comparison pages here.

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Is Winston losing the plot? Newborns can sign up for kiwisaver right now and get $1000 kick start already... This is an interesting new election tactic announcing as policy existing things. Maybe someone could announce with fanfare interest free student loans? What is more worrying is that blindly republished his faux pas.

I know Winston Peters is either losing the plot , or has become really much better at slight-of -hand than ever before............

Peters announced New Zealand First would extend KiwiSaver to newborns and allow funds to be withdrawn for tertiary fees
Can neither of you read?.

@ Stepeh Hulme ..I read the text , and know there are some differences between the status quo , and what he is proposing , the problem is it is totally unworkable in reality ......and simple folk will buy into his BS andd his slight of hand ...and here's why
Firstly , unless the parents actually contribute to the Babies Kiwisaver  over two decades , it will have very little to contribute to education at tertiary level in 18 years  time , so the question is WTF is he on about ?
Secondly , the freeby at the start is $1042 , and that will be zero with service providers fees eroding it to nothing over 18 years , unless one ads to it .
So are we going to have the parents , many of whom cannot afford Kiwisaver for themselves, now have to contribute for te kids too ? 
So the big question is how on earth will it work ?

...and simple folk will buy into his BS andd his slight of hand ...and here's why
Can you clearly define simple folk?
I have a suspicion I fall into that catergory in your view.

@Stephen Hulme , you are hardly in the category of simple folk , but the uneducated and people who are not financially astute will simplistically  believe that this new "idea" of Peters will see them benefiting from a handout , when its not the case . 
Its unworkable and thats it in a nutshell

Hi - peters anounced extending kiwisaver to newborns and 1000 dollar kick start. This is already the case. What is hard to understand about that?

There is a difference between saying removing zoning a low priority (words), and actively campaigning against removing zoning (deeds).

I will retire in a few years time , and I dont need free doctors visits , and  for those who have the time to wait , they can go to local  clinics and hospitals for free right now  , and the bus trip is also free thanks to Mr Peters .
Quite simply Superannuants already get too much for free in our Cradle-to- Grave Nanny State , and many of us dont need it  
When will Labour realise that its never free , the Doctor still has to be paid someone , and thats the rest of the tax-paying population .
So my children struggling to pay of an Auckland mortgage while I live Mortgage free , must subsidize my Doctors visits .........that's  lunacy of the first order
And for that ,matter , when will people realise that handouts , taxation and a balanced or surplus budget is a zero -sum game .

Really, I think you are disconnected from the real world, or you live in a special place where it seems you see things much of NZ doesnt. 
Hospitals ie A&E are meant for emergencies only,  clinics here in Wellington cost way more than a GP visit, typically x1.5 if you have a GP who's closed and x2+ if you dont have a GP.
Its not unusual to see OAPs on the countdown checkout not having enough money for food, let alone money for a doctor's visit.

..I'm with you on this Boatman.  We won't be honoured at dawn parades in our old age....more likeley wheeld to the edge of a cliff and pushed off. The most selfish generation of all time.

Bernard, **really** need that interactive charting adding up thingo widget, to keep a track on the rapidly rising briberation and OPM spend which we see here.
A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real munny.....

Yes - especially in the context of giving free doctors visits to over 65's, whose pension already costs the taxpayer $10.2bn p.a. (up 60% since 2006, and continuing to rise rapidly).
No young person should be voting Labour.

Its like they don't want to be elected.

Us baby boomers have done it hard. I can remember interest rates of 23% in 1987. Our children have done it a lot easier with their amazing income earning ability they enjoy today. I was born in the wrong generation.

Considering what is
Oh and some kids earning ability doesnt reflect the earning ability of all. Try looking at the 40% youth un-employed in the EU and reflect how impossible it is to get a  mortgage with no job.

Steven I am talking about here in NZ only. My son is an accountant and my daughter is finishing her accountancy masters and will start working next year. I have an idea of their potential incomes.  They have both studied hard and he works big hours. 

If you think NZ is isolated from the coming disruptions and decline, you are very much mistaken.
Accountants? Arc B in the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy comes to mind.