This is a transcript of Audrey Young’s weekly subscriber-only Premium Politics newsletter. To sign up, click on your profile at nzherald.co.nz and select ‘Newsletters’. For a step-by-step guide, click here.
Welcome to the Premium Politics Briefing, a week in which Chris Hipkins’ election strategy became clear - to campaign as Prime Minister rather than Labour leader.
He made four big announcements as Government measures, approved by Cabinet: three tunnels across the Waitematā Harbour; a $2 billion climate change fund in partnership with BlackRock to lift New Zealand’s renewable energy from 83 per cent to 100 per cent; fast-tracking of consent processes for wind and solar energy projects; and a tripling of protected areas in the Hauraki Gulf.
Presumably, the aim is to elevate Hipkins above the fray of an election campaign. It may, however, have come too late.
As political editor Claire Trevett points out, Thursday’s Taxpayers’ Union-Curia poll sees Labour’s vote decline by four points to 27 per cent, putting it at risk of collapse. With the Greens getting a lift by three points, she suggests it was Hipkins’ decision to rule out a wealth tax under his leadership.
But it has been an appalling couple of months for Hipkins, with internal dissent over the wealth tax and the resignation of Justice Minister Kiri Allan after her arrest no doubt contributing as well.
Such is Labour’s sorry state of affairs that, just as it finally gets around to launching its tax policy (tipped to come on Sunday), it is fending off questions about Hipkins’ leadership - which is not under threat.
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National leader Christopher Luxon has had a very good week with no obvious missteps and set the political agenda with the policy to ban cellphones from classrooms. He is looking fighting fit on the hustings and his popularity as preferred Prime Minister is rising.
Following on from my piece last week on what a National-Act Cabinet would like, this week I looked at what a Labour-Greens-Māori Party government would look like. The conclusion was that most of the immediate renewal would come from the Greens and that Labour would have a major reshuffle a year or so in when it would be likely that Finance Minister Grant Robertson would retire, among others.
Goes to Act leader David Seymour for suggesting he got the better of an interviewer on Newshub because the journalist must have smoked cannabis the night before. Not okay, even when joking. Set some boundaries, Seymour.
Goes to Taieri MP Ingrid Leary for owning her mistake of queue-jumping in her car on the Otago Bridge and is a reminder to all MPs that nothing you do is private, at least not when you drive a car with your name and face plastered over it.
The week’s top politics stories:
- Claire Trevett: Labour now at risk of collapse, driving voters to the Greens
- Former National Party minister set to launch new Christian party
- Audrey Young: What would a Labour-Greens-Māori Party Cabinet look like?
- National vows to ban phone use at schools ‘off and away all day’
- Hauraki Gulf marine protection area tripled, bottom trawling banned
- $40,000 ministry spend to farewell boss falls foul of public service rules - report
- Mandatory pay gap reporting looms - if current Govt’s work continues
- Govt to accelerate NZ’s switch to clean energy with wind and solar schemes
- BlackRock $2b fund for clean energy: NZ bid to be first in world with 100pc renewable electricity
- ‘Somewhat convoluted’: PM confronts minister’s claim there isn’t enough tax in NZ
- Act seeking to reform sentencing to focus on victims and reduce scope for home detention
- Tunnels picked for second Auckland harbour crossing
- Greens pledge free portable dental clinics across NZ
- ‘Shouldn’t have done it’: Labour MP apologises for queue-jumping in traffic
Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s senior political correspondent. She was named Political Journalist of the Year at the Voyager Media Awards in 2023, 2020 and 2018.
For more political news and views, listen to On the Tiles, the Herald’s politics podcast.