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Mike's Minute: Thoughts on the leaders' debate

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Sep 2023, 10:30AM

Mike's Minute: Thoughts on the leaders' debate

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Sep 2023, 10:30AM

So, the debate.

Firstly, I fear I may be wasting your time if you didn't see it. If you didn't, you didn't miss much.

If you did see it you will have been, I assume, bored witless.

If you were a Chris Hipkins fan going in I don't think he did anything to put you off.

Chris Luxon did well because it was his to lose. In fact, given the build up about him being new and so on, he did very well.

He looked in command of what he was saying but then, hype aside, you don't get to be the leader of a large political party by not being able to front and explain yourself. So in that sense I wasn't surprised.

They agreed on a lot of stuff, which plays into the idea that National are Labour-light and may give room to the minor players who want a bit more upheaval.

There were a series of hopelessly condescending quick-fire questions about their favourite beach and the last book they read and whether they had ever had a speeding ticket. Those questions are for breakfast TV, not a prime time debate.

The questions from the viewers were a waste of time and smacked of tired lazy production. There is not a question out there a moderator can't ask, we don't need to see Ken of Kaitaia.

Both men were respectful, and that might be to Hipkins' disadvantage. He never looks like he is desperate and he should, because he is.

He is losing this campaign, and badly, and he needed to show us he cared. He never looks over-exercised about anything. Nothing is brilliant, nothing is a shambles. It's just good ol' Chippy, talking about vaping or gangs or tax or his favourite beach.

If you have followed this campaign you would have learned nothing. If you had followed none of it you might have picked up a few generalities but, to be fair, if you hadn't followed the campaign you are not the sort of person to watch a debate because you clearly aren't that interested.

Ultimately, that's why the debate failed its audience. People who watch debates know what's going on. We needed life, we needed spark, we needed passion. Yet, we got a couple of blokes holding their own and a moderator sadly working too hard on telling us it was fun.

My theory is this campaign is over and has been for sometime, that the result is a forgone conclusion, and the debate sort of reflected that. We went through the motions, no one fell on their face and we all know what's going to happen in a couple of weeks.

Was there a winner? Yes.

It was those who didn't watch because you had a more productive time.

And Chris Luxon, who showed he is more than up to the task.

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