Labour and New Zealand First yesterday launched their 2014
election campaigns, with both parties aiming at similar
Labour leader David Cunliffe launched a comprehensive health
policy and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters again
weighed into the hot-button issues of race and overseas
ownership of land and businesses.
It is possible Messrs Cunliffe and Peters will need to talk
on September 21 if Mr Cunliffe is to become prime minister of
a Labour-led government.
Mr Cunliffe appears to have ruled Internet-Mana out of any
coalition deal, although Mana Party leader Hone Harawira
still believes Labour will come calling after the election.
Mr Peters will not deal with the Greens and Mr Cunliffe has
made no promises of any coalition with that party, although
he will know he needs Green support in some way to form a
It was an important day for both the Labour and NZ First
leaders as they appealed to the large number of undecided or
swinging voters making up their minds whether to vote and, if
they do, for whom.
Labour's health policy announcements yesterday add up to more
than $300 million. Mr Peters' announcements were not costed.
Mr Cunliffe wants free healthcare for those over 65, while Mr
Peters reminded his supporters that NZ First got rid of the
surtax, got superannuation back to 66% of the net average
wage and introduced the SuperGold Card.
Under Labour, 40% of Kiwis - or 1.7 million people - would be
eligible for free doctor visits and free prescriptions.
Mr Cunliffe said last year more than half a million New
Zealanders did not go to their doctor when they needed to,
because of the cost. About 250,000 did not pick up a
prescription for the same reason.
''When people get sick, their ability to pay shouldn't be a
barrier to getting good healthcare, which is why Labour is
committed to progressively reducing health costs across the
board as economic conditions allow,'' he said.
National cabinet minister and campaign chairman Steven Joyce
accused Labour of trying to buy its way into power with
policies the country cannot afford.
''Labour has announced policies that, on their own admission,
add up to more than $16 billion of new spending over four
years,'' he said.
''The true total is likely to be higher become the policies
have been costed incorrectly.''
Mr Peters knows where his votes come from and wasted no time
reminding supporters how much of this country's banks,
insurance industry and media is owned and controlled from
''They vacuum profits from New Zealand totally
disproportionate to their contribution to our economy as a
whole. Much of New Zealand's wealth is no longer ours to
Opposing foreign ownership would be a major part of NZ
First's campaign, Mr Peters confirmed. Much of the policy in
Mr Peters' speech had been signalled in earlier meetings but
he also had a few sentences on environmentalism, disabled New
Zealanders, and policies for the young and Maori, recalling
the sacrifices made by the Maori Battalion during the world
Mr Cunliffe was welcomed on to stage by singer Don McGlashan
singing a modified version of Split Enz song Time for a
Change and Nature.
Mr Peters quoted Dusty Springfield, describing his opponents'
policies as ''wishing, and hoping, and thinking and
praying''. Some of his political opponents had more political
costume changes than Lady Gaga, he said.
National launches its campaign on August 24.