Mixed polls kindle leaders’ debate

Chris Hipkins (left) and Christopher Luxon. Photos: ODT files
Chris Hipkins (left) and Christopher Luxon. Photos: ODT files
The leaders of the main parties spent their final debate last night talking about momentum: Labour leader Chris Hipkins claimed he had forward momentum, while National leader Christopher Luxon was denying his momentum was in reverse.

The two men vying to become prime minister went into the 1News debate on the back of mixed news on the polls front - both the 1News Verrian poll and the Newshub Reid Research poll had the centre right parties ahead, but each also had Labour support on the rise and the Newshub poll recorded a sharp drop in support for National.

The polls also suggested at least 10% of voters remained undecided who they will vote for before ballot boxes close at 7pm tomorrow.

Given that early voting numbers remain well short of the 2020 level - 970,818 yesterday, as opposed to 1.56million three years previously - predictions of a close election seem on the mark, particularly as about 2million people are likely still to vote.

While the debate was between Mr Hipkins and Mr Luxon, the shadow of a man not in the room - New Zealand First leader Winston Peters - loomed large.

Assuming Wednesday’s poll numbers stack up, and Mr Peters’ party does indeed crest the 5% threshold and returns to Parliament, both men will need either Mr Peters’ support - or for him to support neither party - if they are to form a government.

"Been there, got the T-shirt, wouldn’t do it again," Mr Hipkins, who has ruled out working with Mr Peters, just as the NZ First leader has ruled out working with Labour, said.

"I have said very clearly that I want people to party vote National," Mr Luxon said.

He has said he will speak to Mr Peters but his preferred option is for New Zealand First to not be in government.

"I am standing on the principle that I do not want to see Labour, Te Pati Maori and the Greens in power for another three years ... "If that’s what it takes I will pick up the phone and call New Zealand First."