Four weeks before Election Day, the NZ Herald looks at some of the highlights and low-lights of the past week on the campaign trail - including a tit for tax exchange, an attempt to spin the books, and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's struggle to keep the crowds at bay.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK: TIT FOR TAX:
Labour's Grant Robertson on National's temporary tax cuts policy: "National's announcement today is more about stimulating their dreadful poll numbers than stimulating the economy."
National's Paul Goldsmith on Labour's new tax bracket for higher income earners: ""Grant Robertson's only plan is higher taxes, and no country has ever taxed its way out of a recession, and this a huge one."
POP THE SPIN:
The pre-election opening of the books and release of the GDP figures this week prompted statements from Finance Minister Grant Robertson trumpeting the good news that things were "better than expected."
The bad news was that even the good news was very, very bad indeed - just not quite as bad as Treasury thought it could have been.
The Prefu told us that Treasury's short-term forecasts were now slightly better than Treasury's earlier forecasts – but the long term forecasts were now worse.
The GDP for the second quarter of the year was down by 12.2 per cent – a slightly smaller hit than Treasury's initial estimates.
Pop the champagne corks, Grant, but we can see your ghost good news.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK:
Politicians can't win either way in a campaign under Covid-19 restrictions.
Photos of politicians surrounded by empty space make them look like noddy no-mates.
But, as Labour leader Jacinda Ardern found out, photos amid throngs of fans are also a bad idea.
Ardern copped a 'practice what you preach' lesson on social media after photos taking selfies surrounded by crowds at Palmerston North's Massey University, and then with tradies at a building site. There was no distancing and no masks.
It must have riled up NZ First leader Winston Peters who has questioned the need for the level 2 rules outside of Auckland - but is diligently head counting at his meetings to ensure no more than 100 people enter a venue and they all sit apart.
MOST UNUSUAL POLICY:
A week after he was nabbed smoking in a no-smoking area at Otago University, Winston Peters outlined his new tobacco policy – to reduce tobacco taxes so cigarettes cost no more than $20 a packet.
It was also the most short-lived policy: it was promptly ruled out by Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.
CRUSHER, WHEREFORE ART THOU CRUSHER?
National Party leader Judith Collins on the whereabouts of her alter ego: Crusher.
"When I'm putting out dental health policy or an education policy, you're going to see a softer side of me. You can't do those things with a Crusher look on your face. But you're going to see I haven't gone anywhere."
BLUNDER OF THE WEEK: Treasury and the $44.8 billion typo
In 2019 Treasury had trouble with their online publishing after National discovered a peek-hole in Treasury's website and saw some of the Budget numbers ahead of time.
This week they also had trouble with good old-fashioned paper copies.
The books handed out at the Pre-Election Fiscal Update lock-up were riddled with typos and mistakes because the printers had not used the final draft Treasury sent.
Some 'misprints' were innocuous but others were worth billions of dollars.
In the mis-print, forecast gross debt as a percentage of GDP was set to reach 56.2 per cent – the correct version was 43.9 per cent: a $44.8 billion difference.