The first televised leaders’ debate of the election campaign was a big winner for broadcast network TVNZ, but probably did little to adjust the dial for voters.
TVNZ reported over 1.1 million people tuned in to watch the debate between Chris Hipkins and Christopher Luxon.
The debate did not deliver a stand-out moment for either leader, with many commentators, including some from the Herald, giving it to Luxon - but only just.
NZ Herald political editor Claire Trevett described the debate as a “snoozefest” and said both leaders fought their corners “predictably and evenly”, while columnist Steve Braunias wrote that a coathanger falling over in the TVNZ foyer beforehand was the most dramatic moment of the night.
Perhaps the harshest reaction came from independent economist Shamubeel Eaqub, who told TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning the debate was “grey, beige, horrid”, and that he “resented” watching the debate for the lack of vision in fixing the economy.
NZ Herald editor-at-large Shayne Currie was in the studio during the debate and believed Luxon performed better than Hipkins. However, he told On the Campaign host Georgina Campbell many people are already aware of what the policies are, and he was hoping to see more of a vision for the future - of which there were none.
“If anything, it was a debate that helped the minor parties. If you are looking for change or looking for some difference in the country in the next three to six years on both sides of the divide, the Greens and Act would not have minded that debate at all.”
He agreed with Campbell that there is a sense of apathy out there, with the two major parties only commanding around 70 per cent of the vote in polls between them, but the debate is unlikely to change that.
If you were undecided before last night, you are probably still in that boat today.
Listen to the full episode of On the Campaign for the full rundown of today’s big election stories.