Labour to push policy, not leader

Has the Labour Party run up the white flag of electoral defeat by shying away from an official campaign launch on Sunday? Instead, it has opted for a "significant policy launch" in its caucus room today.

With the party moving away from the presidential-style approach of recent elections, it appears Labour leader Phil Goff has been sidelined in a campaign being run by Trevor Mallard and Grant Robertson, although Mr Robertson says Mr Goff is still an integral part of it.

Mr Goff will be in at least two leaders' debates with Prime Minister John Key, the first one on Monday night. He will also be in television advertisements.

But the only place you will find Mr Goff's face on a billboard is in Mt Roskill, his own electorate.

There seems to be a deliberate plan to have only the electorate candidate's photo and name on the hoardings, with few Party Vote Labour billboards in the South.

The Democrats for Social Credit will launch its campaign in Dunedin on Saturday, during its annual conference in the city.

National will launch its campaign in Auckland at 1pm on Sunday, followed by New Zealand First launching at 1.30pm in Auckland.

The Green Party will launch on November 6, with Act New Zealand expected to launch a week later.

Labour Dunedin North candidate David Clark told the Otago Daily Times the campaign would start today with the policy release but there would be no "ra-ra parade and balloons", at this stage.

Those sorts of opportunities could happen closer to the election.

The policy launch today is expected to be centred around its plan to get New Zealanders saving and is likely to include an element of compulsory superannuation.

The party wanted to focus its campaign on making a clear contrast between itself and National.

That included introducing a fairer tax system and bringing the country to a better financial position when National was focusing on short-term solutions, he said.

"We are trying to make a distinction by presenting clear, well thought-out, costed and smart policy, compared with a government riding a wave of popularity without answering any of the hard questions," Dr Clark said.

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said Labour had been having a series of policy launches around the country with Mr Goff, and that would continue.

"Labour has been clear about its approach. It's out there and open." Ms Curran was attending two candidate forums today and her campaign would highlight attracting jobs for Dunedin South, closing the gap of inequality and providing a strong voice for the south part of Dunedin, she said.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei will attend the Dunedin Green campaign launch in Dunedin tonight.

Alliance Dunedin North candidate and national spokesman Victor Billot said the party's main focus this election was on Wigram, the electorate from which Progressive leader Jim Anderton was retiring.


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