After a strong start for the National Party Chris, things descended into a week of minor mistakes on both sides, a ludicrous political game over contractor numbers and it ended with a good poll for the Labour Party Chris.
Here’s how the Herald press gallery scored it.
Policies and new things:
Luxon delivered his state of the nation speech and a solid policy of tax rebates for childcare for parents, ticking the cost of living and education boxes (even if National let it fade rapidly into the background after three days of promoting on social media).
Hipkins’ pause of his policies’ bonfire continued while he dealt with the cyclone instead. He did deliver one of the fastest U-turns on record on the Government’s transport priorities – from emissions reduction (cycleways etc) to reconstruction (actual roads).
It’s a 7 for Luxon and a 6 for Hipkins.
Mistakes and mis-steps, they had a few:
Hipkins got his ram raid numbers wrong (apparently by mis-reading a 77 drop in ram raids as 77 per cent). Chris Luxon got it wrong when he conflated the Ministry of Health and Te Whatu Ora when talking about consultant numbers. There was a tortuous argument about whether Luxon commissioned paid consultants for a report when he was chair of the PM’s Business Advisory Committee. Hipkins claimed he had (there was a $230,000 report). Luxon claimed he was only responsible for a separate pro-bono report. It’s likely Hipkins won that one, but it was so painful to follow we can’t be sure. Luxon had the grace not to point out that he was effectively a free consultant for Labour in that role himself.
A 5-5 draw in this category.
The battle of the week:
Luxon decided to go hard over the beltway issue of consultant and contractor numbers, when the battle front should have been the health frontline – the plight of Auckland’s emergency departments and Te Whatu Ora’s bungling of waiting list numbers. National came right by Thursday – too late. Nonetheless, Luxon did get Hipkins on the back foot on that issue of consultants and contractors, and Hipkins also got bogged down in explaining why Rob Campbell was sacked over political commentary but former Labour MPs Ruth Dyson and Steve Maharey got to stay in their jobs. So it’s a win for Luxon.
6 for Luxon, a 4 for Hipkins.
The people’s verdict (the polls):
A clear win for Hipkins, who has so far managed to get even National voters to think he’s okay – the Curia Taxpayers’ Union poll saw his favourability ratings soar and he was on 30 per cent as preferred PM while Luxon had dropped five points to 21 per cent. National and Act were still ahead of Labour and the Greens, but this is about Chris v Chris, not Labour v National.
An 8 for Hipkins, a 6 for Luxon.
Our verdict – the winner of the week: Chris Luxon
It was a mixed week for both Chrises. Luxon takes it by dint of managing to get himself back into the frame and set the debate.
A 7 for Luxon, a 6 for Hipkins.