Vote2020

Key Points:

  • Today: Business committee meets this afternoon to agree a parliament timetable
  • September 6: Parliament dissolves
  • September 13: Writ Day, nominations close 18 September
  • October 3: Advance voting begins, last day for return of the writ is 12 November
  • October 17: Election day

The announcement to delay this year's election to October 17 has been welcomed by candidates with one opposition MP says it ''needed to be moved in the interests of fairness''.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said the new date announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday was a "common sense solution".

"I think all of us, regardless of political flavour, will grab the extra four weeks to campaign. I just hope to move from alert level 2 to level 1," he said.

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"It's hard to knock on doors at alert level 2. A lot of people don't want to be engaging or shaking hands, etc at alert level 2."

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller. Photo / File
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller. Photo / File

Muller said while he would continue his traditional campaign methods of holding street corner meetings and door knocking, while adhering to alert level restrictions, he would also embrace social media more as a platform to engage with the community.

Labour list MP and Bay of Plenty candidate Angie Warren-Clark said it was "a really pragmatic decision".

"Essentially it gives us a sense of certainty now. I think that's really important. I think it would have been quite difficult to continue on the 19th of September."

Labour Party list MP Angie Warren-Clark. Photo / File
Labour Party list MP Angie Warren-Clark. Photo / File

Warren-Clark said it was an odd and unprecedented time.

"I think that we as a party, taking into account the work we have done, that will stand us in good stead but how we go into campaigning, that's all in a flux at the moment.

"We need to have a real strong health response and then all the other things will fall into place."

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges also agreed with Ardern's decision.

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"The election date needed to be moved in the interests of fairness and ability to focus right now on Covid-19. That's happened [so this] is the right thing to do," he said.

National Party Tauranga MP Simon Bridges. Photo / File
National Party Tauranga MP Simon Bridges. Photo / File

Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey supported the Prime Minister's move, saying: "We're all in this together."

"I will be ready to return to Parliament, if the Prime Minister requires, to further advocate for the recovery of our local economy and the wellbeing of our whānau from the effects of this pandemic, as we work towards a safe, accessible, credible and fair election."

New Conservative Bay of Plenty candidate Margaret Colmore said keeping the original election day would have been unfair and undemocratic.

"It does give the incumbent Government complete control of the media. We are very pleased it has been delayed. It will give us more exposure."

Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the business community will be more concerned about the management of Covid-19 than the election date.

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"The effects of lockdown are front of mind. The delay to October 17 seems like a sensible course of action."

Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt. Photo / File
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt. Photo / File

General manager of Tremains Bay of Plenty, Anton Jones, said the election had certainly had an impact on buyers and sellers decisions in the past, however, he did not believe delaying the election date would have much of an impact this year.

"The reason I say that is because there is so much demand out there at the moment. Covid-19 level 3 will have more of an effect because it has happened again."

Managing director of the Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys, Simon Anderson, said history tends to indicate there will be a slowing of the market around election time - whenever this takes place.

"Uncertainty does create caution. However we have seen the resilience in our market over the last 3 months (and during past events). Add to this our desirability as a place to live, low interest rates, continued opportunities and limited land available for development suggests any slowing will be temporary."

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said there was usually a "slight pause" in economic activity as some major investments were deferred until after the election.

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"Deferring the election will delay the formation of the MMP government by a month, which may delay key public and private investment decisions until after the New Year's break."

However, Cowley said it was important to have a free and fair election.

"The re-emergence of Covid-19 has taken many people's focus off the election and on to their own immediate issues. People need time to consider each party's policies for who should govern for the next three years," he said. "On balance, I believe it is a pragmatic decision."

Victoria University's Institute for Governance and Policy Studies senior associate Dr Bryce Edwards described delaying the election by four weeks as a "Goldilocks" solution, saying it was the option which came closest to pleasing everyone.

He predicted that, if the election was not postponed, New Zealand was heading for a record low voter turnout.

"I do think it's a good decision. There were too many questions about having an election on September 19 and there were so many arguments being made that were resonating with the public.

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Victoria University's Institute for Governance and Policy Studies senior associate Dr Bryce Edwards. Photo / Supplied
Victoria University's Institute for Governance and Policy Studies senior associate Dr Bryce Edwards. Photo / Supplied

"The public had concerns about safety and elections are supposed to be about participation so I think I think giving it another month is a good decision. There will be questions about whether four weeks is long enough, other political parties were arguing for a later election.

"I think there will be an appreciation from the public that [Ardern] has done the right thing and there will be a much better chance for the country to be out of the situation we are in at the moment."

Today's decision solely came down to Ardern's choice.

The Electoral Commission said voting could safely happen under alert level 2, Ardern said she also had to factor in participation of voters, fairness and certainty.

Under normal circumstances, the election date rests solely on the Prime Minister but Ardern said moving the election was a significant decision so she consulted other political leaders.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the 2020 election will be delayed. Photo / File
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the 2020 election will be delayed. Photo / File

"Covid will be with us for some time to come. Continuously pushing out an election does not lessen the risk of disruption and this is why the Electoral Commission has planned for the possibility of holding an election where the country is at Level 2, and with some parts at Level 3.

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"I will not change the election date again.''