Labour has dropped well into the 20s in the latest political poll - while National has hit the 40s.
Tonight’s Newshub Reid Research Poll shows Labour on 26.8 per cent, down 5.5 points, while National polled at 40.9 per cent, up 4.3 points.
The Greens were up 2.7 points to 12.3 per cent, while Act dropped 2 points to 10.1 per cent.
On those numbers, National and Act could form a government earning 66 seats (National with 53 and Act with 13).
Labour’s 34 seats, 16 from the Greens and four from the Māori Party would only give the left bloc 54.
New Zealand First was close to the five per cent threshold to enter Parliament, sitting on 4.6 per cent in tonight’s poll.
The poll was conducted between September 3-9, including the time when many of Labour’s main election promises were announced.
It comes as both Chris Hipkins and Christopher Luxon launched into busy days on the campaign trail today with the Labour leader in Nelson, while the National leader was north of Wellington with some time in the Ōhāriu electorate that his deputy leader Nicola Willis hopes to win.
The last Newshub Reid Research poll in August found National and Act could govern alone. National had jumped 1.3 percentage points on the previous poll to 36.6 per cent and Act was up by the same amount to 12.1 per cent.
Labour had dipped 3.6 points to 32.3 per cent.
However, Hipkins still had a strong lead over Luxon in the preferred Prime Minister stakes, sitting at 24 per cent over Luxon’s 15.9 per cent.
Today’s campaign activities have largely been shadowed by the anticipation of Treasury’s Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal update (Prefu), which provides a telling view of the state of the Government’s books.
In Treasury’s interim financial statements for the 11 months to May, the fiscal position (released on July 5) had deteriorated by $2.1b when compared with forecasts published in the May Budget.
Willis, also National’s finance spokeswoman, said she would be releasing the party’s fiscal plan in the weeks after the Prefu but before advance voting began on October 2.
She said she would take time to go over what the Treasury published and ensure her plan was checked by external assessors.
Hipkins, speaking from Nelson where he made a dentist visit in light of Labour’s free dental policy for under 30-year-olds, said National’s refusal to release some modelling behind its tax package showed the party had something to hide.
“The fact that they’re not releasing the costings is clearly a sign that they know they don’t add up. If they were really rock solid in their costings, they’d be saying more than ‘just trust us’.”
Hipkins accepted the Government’s finances were in a “challenging position”, but he said the economy was turning a corner with inflation coming down.
Asked if Labour might need to adjust its election promises depending on what was revealed tomorrow, he said: “I’m confident that what we’re putting before the electorate will balance, it will be paid for.”
On the $4 billion that the Government had already asked public service bosses to trim, he said: “None of both public sector leaders are delighted to have to reduce the baselines, but we’ve made $4 billion worth of savings that we think we can do without cutting into the bone of public service.”
Hipkins and Luxon found common ground rejecting New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, who recently claimed Māori were not indigenous to New Zealand.
Hipkins said it was “another example of the sorts of divisive policies that Winston Peters would bring to a National-Act-New Zealand First Government”.
Luxon said he believed Peters was wrong but didn’t answer questions as to whether this position was enough for Luxon to rule out working with Peters in a future government. Peters and Hipkins have both ruled out working with each other.
Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.