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Hipkins enters 'tough on crime' space, seeks to turn around tough polls

Michael Neilson,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Jul 2023, 7:21AM

Hipkins enters 'tough on crime' space, seeks to turn around tough polls

Michael Neilson,
Publish Date
Tue, 18 Jul 2023, 7:21AM

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is repositioning Labour to the centre and into campaign mode with a raft of new policies, one of which made a move into National’s “tough on crime” space.

Yesterday, Hipkins stepped into the law and order space with policies targeting youth offending, including making it an aggravating factor to incite or influence young people to commit crimes.

Those who publish recordings of unlawful behaviour on social media would also receive stronger punishments and would be considered by judges as an aggravating factor when sentenced. The National Party proposed a similar policy last month with a focus on videos being posted to social media of ram raids and other retail crime.

 LISTEN LIVE: PM Chris Hipkins on Mike Hosking Breakfast at 7.30am

The Herald understands there will be further youth and crime policies unveiled this week by Labour ahead of its imminent tax policy.

Hipkins’ intention is to focus on “prevention, protection and accountability” when addressing young offenders, who have been committing high-profile and more violent crimes.

“Kiwis have had a gutsful of people thinking the rules don’t apply to them, and I have had a gutsful as well,” Hipkins said.

It comes as Hipkins has seen successive negative polls in recent weeks for the Labour Party.

Auckland police investigate a ram raid allegedly committed by youths in Auckland during May. Photo / Hayden WoodwardAuckland police investigate a ram raid allegedly committed by youths in Auckland during May. Photo / Hayden Woodward

Overnight, a 1News Verian Poll had Labour slip two points to 33 per cent and Hipkins slide one in the preferred Prime Minister stakes to 24 per cent - still ahead of National leader Christopher Luxon on 20 per cent.

The poll saw National also down two points to 35 per cent and Act up one point to 12 per cent, giving them 61 seats together and enough to form a wafer-thin majority of the 120 seats. It also showed a three-point bump for the Greens, up to 10, and one point to Te Pāti Māori, now on three per cent.

According to the Herald’s poll of polls - adding in data from the two latest polls - come election day a National-Act coalition remains the most likely outcome with a probability of 45.8 per cent - but this is down from 53.2 per cent a week ago.

It’s not all bad news for the left bloc, however, with the Greens and Te Pāti Māori looking to mop up some of Labour’s disaffected voters.

The probability of Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori forming a Government together has increased from 34.1 per cent to 40.3 per cent.

Last night’s poll follows a Taxpayers’ Union - Curia poll last Wednesday that saw Labour drop two points to 31 per cent and Hipkins take a big hit as preferred Prime Minister, dropping from 29 per cent to 23 per cent.

Meanwhile, a Talbot Mills corporate poll last Monday saw Labour tumble five points to 31 per cent, its lowest rating in that poll since at least 2019.

Hipkins has said he was not concerned about losing votes to parties further left of centre than Labour.

He was also not concerned about what it could mean after ruling out a wealth and/or capital gains tax while leader.

“If they can get the majority in Parliament to pass that without the support of the Labour Party, good on them,” he said.

Meanwhile, embattled Labour MPs Kiri Allan and Michael Wood return to Parliament today.

Allan, who has retained her ministerial portfolios after historic allegations of misbehaviour in her office surfaced, and Wood, who lost his after the Auckland Airport shares debacle, have proved headaches for Hipkins in recent weeks and likely played their role in successive negative polls for the party.

Wood returns to Parliament this week after resigning as a minister in June when it was revealed he held shares in Auckland Airport - while he was Transport Minister - despite being told multiple times by the Prime Minister’s office he needed to get ride of them.

The Herald has been unable to make contact with Wood. Hipkins said on Monday he had not spoken to him about his future, but expected him to return to caucus today.

Allan has not accepted any requests by the Herald for an interview ahead of her return.

Allan took some leave recently to take care of her mental health and well-being, confirming her relationship had also recently ended.

At about the same time, some allegations were made about her behaviour towards staff over a year ago while she was Minister of Conservation.

She denied the allegations at the time but on Friday, after a meeting with Hipkins, accepted the concerns and apologised to anyone who found her behaviour towards them unacceptable.

Hipkins said on Monday he had assurances from Allan she was well enough to return to work.

They also had a conversation about the allegations.

“She’s issued an apology, she’s indicated that if anyone did find her, her behaviour too combative she’s issued an apology for that.

“She’s offered to meet with anybody individually who felt that way. So as far as I’m concerned, in the absence of formal complaints, that’s about as far as I can go.”

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