Labour leader Chris Hipkins’ visit to the Avondale markets in Auckland this morning has been largely met with positivity - but was disrupted on a few occasions, including an appearance by the former owner of the New Lynn Lone Star cafe which shut down during the pandemic.
Hipkins and several MPs squeezed their way through the market stalls, taking photos with many of those perusing the products on sale.
The man claiming to be the former owner of the Lone Star, wearing a Trump shirt, shouted at Hipkins, claiming he had ruined his business through the Covid restrictions. He had to be blocked from approaching Hipkins by security and police.
The owners of Lone Star New Lynn closed their eatery last year claiming their franchise agreement for the restaurant was terminated after they defied Covid-19 regulations.
“Calm down? All my staff lost their jobs, how can you be calm?” Brendon Pascoe said.
Pascoe said he was “lost for words” as he yelled at Hipkins for several minutes before giving up and walking off.
“We can’t let these people rule our country any longer.
“We can’t have Labour do another term, we can’t do it.”
Stephanie Cowie and Brendon Pascoe have previously said they were forced out of their business after they refused to discriminate against un-vaccinated customers and staff.
Under the Covid-19 Protection Framework restaurants were only permitted to open for dine-in customers during the orange and red traffic light settings if they used vaccine passes.
Otherwise they were restricted to takeaway services.
The owners were issued infringement notices and fined $24,000 over failing to comply with the vaccine mandate.
Also at today’s market walk another man took exception to Hipkins’ presence, shouting at police who he claimed had knocked his son as Hipkins’ group pushed through the crowded stalls.
One stall operator also wasn’t happy with the commotion, saying “we’re trying to make money here, stay off the [benefit]”.
But the majority of people were pleased to see Hipkins, with many requesting a photo which the Labour leader always accepted.
One woman asked about labour’s proposed GST off fruit and vegetables policy, questioning whether he was sure the tax would be removed.
She didn’t seem convinced, asking again if he was sure, to which Hipkins said yes.
Tax experts had criticised the policy as the cost-saving might not be passed on to consumers.
Despite the few flashpoints, Hipkins noted how much quieter his walk-through had been in comparison with his recent appearance at the Otara markets where he was heckled by Freedoms NZ supporters.
Drilling down on Labour’s free dental plan for under-30s
Hipkins, appearing at a medical and dental centre run in central Auckland, said he’d received “really good feedback” on Labour’s new dental policy.
He acknowledged Labour had failed to deliver on its prior election promise to send out 20 mobile dental vans, but he was confident the new policy could be delivered.
Asked about National’s tax plan, Hipkins said it was “fantasyland stuff” and believed Kiwis would be smart enough to see through the tax cut promise and consider the entire package.
He said he didn’t feel unsafe at the markets, accepting people would have different views.
On Brian Tamaki and Freedoms NZ protests, Hipkins felt it would be a “nuisance” for Kiwis and that shouting politicians down was not the right way to engage in debate.
Asked when he last went to the dentist, Hipkins said it was within the last six months for a clean and some X-rays for what he described as “tricky wisdoms”. He said it cost him between $100-200.