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Hipkins on NZ response to Israel attack; Luxon talks tough on gangs

Derek Cheng,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Oct 2023, 1:28PM

Hipkins on NZ response to Israel attack; Luxon talks tough on gangs

Derek Cheng,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Oct 2023, 1:28PM


Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has given another statement on the situation in Israel, saying he had spoken to Australia’s PM Anthony Albanese this morning.

Their positions were aligned and they would stay in touch to be sure they were aligning their efforts.

He had also spoken to Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and told her to ensure New Zealand was ready to respond to any international humanitarian response.

“We will see how things unfold, but we will be ready to respond to any humanitarian response.” He re-stated New Zealand’s “absolute condemnation.”

Hipkins says he would not break his word and work with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in order to break a possible post-election stalemate, even if that meant sending voters back to the polls.

But if the Labour leader were in such a scenario, he says a second election would be National’s fault.

Hipkins was asked about the prospect of working with NZ First after National said there was “a very real and growing possibility” of post-election talks between National, Act and NZ First falling short of forming a government.

With only five days to go, a series of polls show National would likely need both Act and NZ First to form a government, despite National leader Christopher Luxon’s plea to voters to deliver a clear two-party hand to him. There is also the possibility of a Labour-Greens-Te Pāti Māori bloc forming a parliamentary majority with the help of NZ First.

Luxon said two weeks ago that he would pick up the phone to Peters as a last resort if it meant avoiding another Labour-led government, but on Saturday, National’s campaign chair Chris Bishop said a second election would be needed if “it is just impossible to do a deal between National, Act and NZ First”.

Peters dismissed the prospect of a second election as a “lie”, and described National’s latest campaign ads - which suggested eight weeks of coalition talks after no clear election winner - as “dirt”.

“It is a slight,” Peters said after a public meeting in Masterton. “It is a mistruth, but sadly we just have to get on with the job and keep going. We are not going to be derailed by that sort of talk because people can work out that it’s a lie.”

Yesterday Hipkins and Luxon both said it was going to be a close election, pitching themselves respectively as the safe bet to avoid post-election uncertainty.

Hipkins said raising the prospect of a second election showed National was “falling apart”.

“After spending the last few weeks telling New Zealanders that he could work with Winston Peters, Christopher Luxon is now threatening New Zealanders with another general election,” he said.

“Christopher Luxon has been saying that he would work with Winston Peters. Now he’s saying that he thinks it might not work - and they haven’t even sat in a room together yet.”

Labour leader Chris Hipkins serves ice cream from a Mr Whippy truck in Takapuna yesterday. Photo / Alex Burton

Labour leader Chris Hipkins serves ice cream from a Mr Whippy truck in Takapuna yesterday. Photo / Alex Burton

Peters has promised multiple times not to work with Labour and Hipkins has returned the favour, but in a recent poll a majority - 55 per cent - didn’t believe Peters’ pledge.

Asked if he would open the door to Peters if it meant avoiding a second election, Hipkins said: “I made it clear months ago we wouldn’t be working with Winston Peters or New Zealand First.”

He said it wouldn’t really be a choice for him because any blame for such a scenario would lie with National if they walked away from post-election negotiations.

 “I’m not the one talking about an extra general election. That’s Christopher Luxon’s threat to New Zealanders.”

Hipkins said if the numbers fell his way and he was in post-election talks with the Greens and Te Pāti Māori, those negotiations wouldn’t break down to the point of forcing another election - even though Hipkins has ruled out the wealth tax that those parties are prioritising.

“I’m confident that we have enough common ground that we would be able to put together a stable government.”

Campaigning in Kerikeri yesterday, Luxon was asked by Quail Ridge Retirement Village resident Rhonda Blakie about him working with Peters.

“I will find a way to make that work as best as I possibly can,” he said, but he added there were “no guarantees”.

Speaking to media afterwards, Luxon repeated his preference for a National-Act coalition and that Peters was a last resort.

He wouldn’t say what the chances were of finding a workable deal with Peters, nor would he answer whether he was trying to scare voters away from NZ First and towards National.

Luxon didn’t directly answer when asked whether raising the spectre of another election was a threat, but he rejected the notion that he was scaremongering by talking about the possibility of a hung Parliament.

“That could be one of the complexities that emerges and one of the uncertainties that emerges on the other side of the election.”

His position hadn’t changed since he ruled Peters in two weeks ago, Luxon said.

“What we’re saying is there’s huge uncertainty on the other side of this election. To avoid all of the uncertainty on the other side of the election, party vote National.”

National leader Christopher Luxon campaigning in Northland yesterday. Photo / Michael Cunningham

National leader Christopher Luxon campaigning in Northland yesterday. Photo / Michael Cunningham

He laughed off Hipkins’ suggestion that Labour was on the up.

“You cannot say you’ve got momentum when you’re in the 20s. Been there, done that. Not a great place to be,” Luxon said.

The Herald’s poll of polls shows Labour on 26.8 per cent, the Greens on 12.3 per cent and Te Pāti Māori on 2.8 per cent - or 41.9 per cent between all three.

Labour’s internal polling, the Herald understands, is showing the left bloc with 55 out of Parliament’s 120 seats, versus the right bloc with 58 seats, with NZ First holding the balance of power.

“The gap between the centre-right and the centre-left is narrowing. There’s still a week to go in this campaign and a lot can happen,” Hipkins said.

Act leader David Seymour said New Zealanders cannot afford a second election in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

“It is absolutely critical that parties respect the result of this election and work together, not just to bring about a change of Government,” Seymour said.

“We will make our best effort to make it work.”

Following Sir John Key’s pleas to voters to tick blue earlier this week, Labour unveiled a plea from former Prime Minister Helen Clark on its social media channels yesterday.

“When times are tough it’s natural to look for change, but the question is: ‘change to what?’ Change to tax cuts that deliver so little to people on low incomes? Tax cuts funded by skimping on the basic services Kiwis rely on, and selling our houses to offshore buyers? Policies like those would deepen poverty and inequality,” Clark said.

This morning, Hipkins faces a two-hour grilling by Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking, while Luxon is campaigning in Christchurch before flying back to Auckland for a public rally in the evening.

Derek Cheng is a senior journalist who started at the Herald in 2004. He has worked several stints in the press gallery and is a former deputy political editor.


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