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Last night’s leader debate

Written By: - Date published: 9:21 am, September 23rd, 2020 - 129 comments
Categories: election 2020, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins - Tags: , , ,

That was going to be the whole post.

But then there was this,

I was doing other things while the debate was on, but could hear the sound. I didn’t listen to the content much but did notice the tone. What stood out was how much it sounded like two normal people talking. Ardern and Collins both had their PR-honed approaches of course, but the absence of macho was palpable.

I kept thinking about the relief of not having FJK  in full rabid, bash mode, circa 2014. What I remember most about that election was the debate where Key relentlessly attacked Cunliffe as a person, as a man, and how much Cunliffe at that stage looked like someone who had been repeatedly punched. This was in the context of Cunliffe’s apology to battered women for men’s culture of violence. Oh, and Dirty Politics. The connections aren’t too hard to make.

New Zealand’s brutal underbelly is on a break for a while.

The bits of last night’s debate I did listen to sounded like so many talking points and I got bored. I guess adding aggression to that provides a kind of spectator sport. I prefer my democracy as participatory, thanks MSM. So I’m grateful to have two women on stage, leading in this at least, that we can be human even if the actual policies aren’t.

Ardern’s relentless positivity and compassion framing is taking us in a better direction in terms of political culture. But policy seems stuck in an eddy, and her rhetoric on welfare and housing fell flat. It was really disappointing to see Arden relying on the deserving poor framing (children and working people deserve help, non-working poor and disabled people are swept under the rug). A substantial policy improvement on National, no doubt about it, but it’s not like Labour have plans that will adequately address the housing and welfare crises.

The leaders of our both main parties committed to neoliberalism is another kind of brutality that we seem reluctant to address.

129 comments on “Last night’s leader debate ”

  1. AB 1

    Who gets to operate a brutal machine – good people, or sociopaths? The choice is obvious, though depressing.

    • weka 1.1

      what happens to the good people within a sociopathic system? I do think Arden is changing this, as are the Greens and some of the Labour MPs.

      • Descendant Of Smith 1.1.1

        Nah pretty much the same people are in charge. If there was a change of government they would revert back to the earlier toxic environment with ease. Three terms you might see some real change. There will be those who just thought they would need to wait three years til National were back so normal transmission could resume.

        I was surprised in the debate that non-one asked Judith Collins about the toxic reputation WINZ had (still has?) when National were in power and how she might not let that occur again.

        "What happens to the good people within a sociopathic system?"

        They leave or get demoted or have breakdowns or they become sociopathic themselves.

        The Standford Prison experiment suggests for a significant number the latter occurs.


        • weka

          did you read the post? Do you know what I am talking about?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Three terms you might see some real change.

          Yeah, after three terms you'd maybe see enough of the Old Guard retire and thus get out of the way of necessary changes.

          I was surprised in the debate that non-one asked Judith Collins about the toxic reputation WINZ had (still has?) when National were in power and how she might not let that occur again.

          So toxic it got people killed. And that wasn't the first time that happened under National either.

          Their solution would be the same as it was last time – more minimum wage security guards hired through the private sector and seen as a win-win. Less unemployment and more profits for their funders.

          They leave or get demoted or have breakdowns or they become sociopathic themselves.


        • Vague-abond

          You know the Stanford Prison Experiment is a load of bollocks, right? Like "vaccines cause autism" or "National are responsible managers of the economy."

          • Draco T Bastard


            • JohnSelway

              He or she is right actually – recent research has actually debunked the Stanford Prison Experiment


              • Draco T Bastard

                Ah, thanks.

              • Descendant Of Smith

                Debunked I think is a bit strong. Quite flawed yes as it raises questions such as being told by authority figures to act in certain ways was a factor that wasn't explained/was hidden which changes the why of the behaviour i.e. it wasn't all self driven by circumstance as was portrayed.

                From the paper linked to.

                "Conclusion: Rethinking the relationship between groups, power and tyranny At one level, our study confirms the findings of the SPE. It shows that an understanding of collective conflict and tyranny cannot be achieved simply by looking at individuals but requires an analysis of group processes and intergroup relations. In this sense, we agree with Zimbardo (and many others; e.g. Asch, 1952; Sherif, 1966; Tajfel, 1978) that such phenomena can only be explained through group-level analysis. Our disagreement with prior analysis of the SPE thus relates to the nature of group processes and of the conditions under which they lead to social pathologies. As almost every psychology student (and an unusually large proportion of the general public) knows, the message of the SPE is that the toxic combination of groups and power leads to tyranny. The implications of the BBC prison study are different. In common with recent theoretical developments in social psychology, they contest the premise that group behaviour is necessarily uncontrolled, mindless and antisocial (Ellemers et al., 1999; Oakes et al., 1994; Postmes et al., 2000; Reicher, 1982, 2001; Spears, Oakes, Ellemers, & Haslam, 1997; Turner, 1999). In contrast, the results of the BBC prison study suggest that the way in which members of strong groups behave depends upon the norms and values associated with their specific social identity and may be either anti- or prosocial (Jetten, Spears, & Manstead, 1997). However, based on the present data, we would argue that failing groups almost inevitably create a host of problems for their own members and for others. These problems have a deleterious impact on organization, on individuals’ clinical state, and – most relevant here – on society. For it is when people cannot create a social system for themselves that they will more readily accept extreme solutions proposed by others. It is when groups lack the power to exercise choice that an authoritarian ideology that promises to create order for them appears more seductive. In short, it is the breakdown of groups and powerlessness that creates the conditions under which tyranny can triumph (for related arguments see Kanter, 1979; Pfeffer, 1981; Reynolds & Platow, 2003)"

                In this context we should not be at all surprised at a toxic culture between WINZ and the public, nor the rise of gangs in poor communities – who by both nature and practice are authoritarian.

                The devolution of decision making (along with funding) to local communities is much required.

  2. vto 2

    about as much use to the country as two bozos shouting one-liners at each other in the pub

  3. Lukas 3

    Relentless increases to benefits… who is going to pay for that?

    • I Feel Love 3.1

      We will, whether it's direct benefits to disabled, non workers, working poor etc, or indirectly like social services, police, prisons, more intervention at schools (feeding kids, special needs) mental health, drs visits, etcetc … we all pay anyway.

    • greywarshark 3.2

      Not you Lukas you will be arranging your income to avoid it – going by the shape of your question. Only an ass pays taxes and accepts that they live in a country with other people who the money-accumulators manage to push to the fringes, and call losers.

      Reports from the fringes for today – bad and good:
      but also

      • Lukas 3.2.1

        No actually- I’m on PAYE as an employee so pay what I pay, but thanks for the ad hominem abuse.

        • greywarshark

          Ad hominem? People are so sensitive over what is said about their points of view. That came from you, whatever you are called, you and your beliefs are one and the same thing to me. I think that isn't the received wisdom but it's how it is in real life.

          So about benefits – you say relentless increase. Do you think that they should never change, do you know that old age pensioners receiving superannuation get automatic rises to allow for inflation, and so have relentless rises. Is that wrong?

          Do you think that other beneficiaries should be driven to desperate proverty, to starve? They already have to beg, borrow, or get loans from WINZ for necessaries.

          When cuts to benefits were orginally made there was about $200 that could be applied for annually to help with extras and was a grant not a loan. That was changed – grant to loan – to grind beneficiaries down further. Is that what you truly believe? A sensitive soul such as yourself would feel pain about that one would think.

          • SPC

            Super is determined by a net wage figure, so if wages rose and or income taxes were cut then super would rise accordingly. For decades it is benefits that have been increased by the CPI – this has historically been a lower level increase than that for super.

            And given the CPI increase is an average, often the necessities – rent, power and food have gone up faster than the CPI average – resulting in beneficiaries getting worse off year by year.

            The government recently decided to change the way benefit rates move each year to stop this happening. The $25 increase along with the earlier increase by National has mertely moved benefits backed towards the level they were cut to by RR back in the early 1990's – why WEAG wants a further increase. There have effectively been real cuts to benefit levels since then via low rates of annual increase.

            • Descendant Of Smith

              Benefits and NZS used to be exactly the same rates and both linked to 30% of the average wage.

              Ironically a whole lot of low paid workers losing their jobs could lift the average wage and consequently further increase the gap as super rose accordingly.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.3

      If the country cannot afford to keep its people then it is over-populated.

      Or, to put it another way, the country always pays for the upkeep of the people living there. That is inevitable as everything that a country's people need to live comes out of that country's available resources. No amount of trade will change that.

      This is why the government creating money and spending it into the economy works. And why a UBI would also work.

      And, most importantly, why your question is completely meaningless.

      • Rosemary McDonald 3.3.1

        You might want to get in touch with prospective Leaders DTB and pass on your brilliant idea for reducing costs…

        Daily review 11/08/2020

      • Janet 3.3.2

        The time of subsidising employers to supplement wages with the arrival of Covid would have been a good moment to go UBI – although I understand there was a lot new and fast happening so maybe not the right moment .

        But tell me we have so many people now losing jobs yet it is considered necessary to allow migrant workers into the country – despite Covid – why ?

        • Foreign waka

          Because the billions we paid to corporates have been posted as profits which in turn have been paid out as a dividend a week or so ago. The shares tanked and NZ is billions poorer. Its called Privatizing Profits And Socializing Losses.

          It had nothing to do with preserving jobs. Period.


          How Privatizing Profits And Socializing Losses Works

          The basis of this concept is that profits and losses are treated differently. When companies, even those that are publicly-traded, are profitable, it's the shareholders who reap the rewards. Therefore, only a certain group of people benefit. But when the losses these companies experience are steep, taxpayers must bear the brunt. The idea of privatizing profits and socializing losses generally comes in the form of some type of intervention from governments. This may be through bailouts or any number of subsidies.

          I would hope that the citizen of NZ are being told who the beneficiaries of THEIR money were so that we can avoid them like the pest.

          • Pat

            The wage subsidy was one method of providing serviceability of the debt while enabling the health response….it was not the only option but I suspect its temporary nature and widespread acceptability made it the easiest option to implement quickly.

        • Stuart Munro

          It's a good question – and for folk like the mechanical harvester drivers, it ought to be possible to train New Zealanders in a time not vastly greater than foreign workers would have to spend in isolation.

          • Janet

            Picking strawberries requires only 5 mins training and a bit of initial supervision!

            • The Al1en

              Being a human crash test dummy would require no training or supervision, just a seat belt, yet I'm not going to be doing that either.

              Real work for real wages or nothing.

  4. Ric Stacey 4

    Two in depth interviews would have been more informative.

  5. Robert Guyton 5

    If we blow hard enough on the embers, will we get a flame?

  6. tc 6

    Jude had the usual rhetoric about tax cuts being great as they get definitely get spent, a point Campbell specifically pinned her on. Fact check that historically occurring whenever you like MSM.

    RMA fixes poverty y'know, Tech's the holy grail, oh those poor farmers (heartland mention tick) and the usual spin on the areas they screwed over for 3 terms leaving an incoming gov't no choice but to spend billions.

    JA looked tired, JC looked every bit the nasty polly NZ knows she can be was the takeout in this household.

    • Lukas 6.1

      But did you notice the question from the City Mission mentioned that people do not have enough disposable income even with jobs and some working two or three jobs… would they not be better off with a tax cut?

      • weka 6.1.1

        no. They'd be better off with a living wage and social security if they lose their jobs and social services like free health care and education. Also, fixing the housing crisis, because many people are struggling now due to rent or mortgage.

        • Lukas

          Genuine question- is there data that shows the net pay difference with the tax cuts on current minimum wage versus same tax rates on the living wage based on a standard 40 hour week?

          [Fixed typo in e-mail address]

          • Craig H

            Not sure about data elsewhere, but for the sake of debate, I have done the calculations:

            National Min wage: $18.90; $39,312.00; $33,285.96; $640.11

            Labour 2021 Min wage: $20.00; $41,600.00; $35,241.76; $677.73

            Living wage: $22.10; $45,968.00; $38,528.80; $740.94

            Not sure how to make a table in this, but the columns are hourly before PAYE, annual before PAYE, annual after PAYE, weekly after PAYE. Annual is based on a 40 hour week i.e. wage x 40 x 52. Have used PAYE which includes tax and ACC earner levies (of 1.39%), rather than just tax, as this is what employees would actually receive.

            I also included the Labour promise to continue with their intention to raise minimum wage to $20/hr since that seemed relevant to these discussions as National's fiscal plan includes a line that they will freeze minimum wage for 12 months, so there is a clear difference there as well.

          • weka

            Interesting question. Back of the spreadsheet calcs, someone might want to check my maths.

        • The Al1en

          Yep, taxes pay for the services we should take for granted. An eight dollars per week tax cut on the minimum wage isn't going to pay for a root canal, for example.

          This housing issue still comes down to the same old problem of property speculators and investors distorting the market and, as Jacinda said in the debate, she'd like one but it's a vote loser.

          • Descendant Of Smith

            Simply bringing back stamp duty at sale would have a similar effect to a wealth tax. Make it 10% or 15% if you really want to start dampening it down.

      • Macro 6.1.2

        Those having to work 2 to 3 jobs would most likely benefit from being paid a living wage first, and not having to work so many jobs.

        • Draco T Bastard

          And if they didn't have to work so many jobs then unemployment would decrease as there'd be more jobs available.

          • Foreign waka

            Hmm….not necessarily. An employer would counter with automation of as many positions as possible which leaves less jobs for which many people stay in line. Prices would not decrease but profits would be higher.

            I belief Singapore has already a coffee shop where the service is done entirely by robots.

            For any action there is a reaction.

            • Sacha

              If we could get NZ business owners to actually invest in productivity rather than suppressing wages and trousering the lazy profits, the whole economy would be better off.

            • Draco T Bastard

              An employer would counter with automation of as many positions as possible which leaves less jobs for which many people stay in line.

              True, but not immediately.

              In fact, one of the reasons for Penal Rates was to encourage automation. The problem that ran into was that productivity increased enough where working could be reduced or the economy developed but nobody in power wanted to do either and so Penal Rates were abolished and we were expected to progress into a service economy. We kinda got that but it was a low waged, low skill hospitality and tourism rather than the high paid technical stuff.

              What needs to happen is that we get the automation and develop the economy so that we have high paid technical jobs and manufacturing.

              • Sacha

                Most future jobs will be about creativity rather than big machinery. Enablers of productivity will be more about problem-solving and working together well. Training, in other words.

        • indiana

          Easy, abolish secondary tax.

          • Sacha

            Ridiculous that it is still in place.

            • Descendant Of Smith

              Secondary tax is just a stop-gap tax rate until you either apply for a special tax rate or do your tax return. Ultimately at the end of the year you still pay the same amount of tax as anyone else earning the same total income.

              It has to do with PAYE tables.

              If I have one job earning $20,000 then I'll pay tax based on $20,000 and the PAYE tables reflect this.

              In simple terms 10.5 % up to 14,000 then 17.5% to $20,000.

              $1470+$1050=$2520 in tax.

              Now if I have two jobs earning $10,000 each then each employer based on IRD's PAYE table will treat those based as the first $10,000 so I will pay 10.5% on each job.


              I'll now have a tax bill at the end of the year of $490.

              Secondary tax on a second income ensures you pay enough PAYE so that you don't get a tax bill but you can go to IRD and get a special tax rate on the second income which they will work out so you only pay $2520 and not end up paying too much PAYE.

              I had understood however that the new computer system would now capture all your income sources and make adjustments to your PAYE as you went along based on what your total year earnings would be based on what you were actually earning. This removes the need for secondary tax but does mean your net pay would fluctuate but you would neither get a tax bill for not enough PAYE or a refund for paying too much. Not sure whether this has commenced yet.

              This of course only works if all your income is from wages, salary and maybe interest payments within NZ.

              I've never quite understood this get rid of secondary tax notion except as some sort of nonsensical meme/rallying cry.

              • Draco T Bastard

                I've never quite understood this get rid of secondary tax notion except as some sort of nonsensical meme/rallying cry.

                That's pretty much about it brought about by ignorance of how taxes work and laziness of people not doing their tax returns.

                It's really bad that people actually fell for that rallying cry as it denotes a serious level of ignorance about the governance of our country.

  7. Pat 7

    I know the lack of vision has been a much noted theme but surely even the most timid of politician can see the synergies available in addressing the fundamental causes of all that the overwhelming majority of the electorate care about?….the evidence is otherwise.

    • greywarshark 7.1

      Remember Verdun in WW1. The army leaders kept ….thousands of hapless soldiers pinned down around that point for yonks. Got nowhere, caused a lot of suffering, no new ideas came to mind? If there were any initiatives at all they must have failed and stasis prevailed.

      The battle lasted for 302 days, the longest and one of the most costly in human history.

      In 2000, Hannes Heer and Klaus Naumann calculated that the French suffered 377,231 casualties and the Germans 337,000, a total of 714,231, an average of 70,000 a month.
      In 2014, William Philpott wrote of 976,000 casualties in 1916 and 1,250,000 in the vicinity during the war.

      In France, the battle came to symbolise the determination of the French Army and the destructiveness of the war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Verdun

      The French seeing it as 'determination'. They have their own special way of thinking about their behaviour favouring esprit de corps over hard-nosed critique. And that is true about neolibs also, whose theories were developed in the USA, which adopted French revolutionary ideals, but all those get pretty dusty after a while.

      If you stand up in NZ and call for "liberty, equality, fraternity" which are still great ideals, you will get funny looks. We have gone further down the grade for humankind and now are begging for human rights to be considered and applied, with the same result – funny looks.

      Our Verdun; when will we be released from this evil spell that holds our minds in a vacuum? Or is it our brains in a sort of Faradays glass ball where neurons endlessly surge, hit enveloping walls, and fall spent to the bottom to recover and try again! And others watch this and call for 'evidence-based' factual proof of what they can see with their own eyes, but where are their minds? Probably looking at more interesting memes like explorations of outer space, (literally), as there is money to be made in that. People, are passe'.

  8. Paapapakaratua 8

    "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel" according to Samuel Johnson in 1774.

    Does that apply to Nationalism in Aotearoa today?

    • Stuart Munro 8.1

      No. Nationalism acts as a brake on the forces of globalisation, many of which impoverish and marginalize vulnerable groups. And the nation state is the unit of political accountability. Politicians hate and fear accountability, which is why they spend their efforts on globalism instead of making sure our country prospers.

  9. Enough is Enough 9

    Underwhelmed and worried about our future.

    The next two to three years are going to be brutal for those at the bottom. The rich have access to cheap cash and are spending up and taking advantage of the economic environment. From what I saw last night neither party has any bold solutions for this. There was no promise of transformational change.

    Its status quo folks for at least the next 3 years.

    • PsyclingLeft.Always 9.1

      I do try to be Optimistic about Future Labour. Things like the NZ Apprenticeship resuscitation and Health System rebuild give me that. I still feel they need a Green Conscience as well….

      • Enough is Enough 9.1.1

        They need a strong aggressive Green party that makes their support conditional upon Labour doing what a proper left wing party should do.

        The time for blaming the Nats for everything is now over. Get on with it.

  10. Kay 10

    Did disabled even get a mention? Or perhaps it was when I blinked for a split second?

  11. PsyclingLeft.Always 11

    Still a few neolibs on the "left"…pining for the so called "Labour" days of Douglas, Prebble, Caygill et almaybe? Be good to be rid of them….

  12. Grant Insley 12

    "….but it’s not like Labour have plans that will adequately address the housing and welfare crises.but it’s not like Labour have plans that will adequately address the housing and welfare crises."

    Sorry? They actually do have plans, as announced in 2017, they'll take decades to take a long lasting effect. Each year sees an improvement on the previous one. To trivialise such a huge issue with the expectation that a click of the fingers will resolve these issues does nobody any favours.

    • Descendant Of Smith 12.1

      They could set maximum rents in the meantime. After all they can stop exploitation in the loan-sharking finance industry by setting maximum interest rates – why not with rent-sharking landlords?

  13. Byd0nz 13

    If a Labour/ Green Gvt becomes a reality at the election I will expect major changes to happen almost immediately and on going because I think this will be Labour of old with it's original manifesto, I hope to see shades of Big Norm appear. If not Labour/Green will be just another bullshit Capitalist entity and that will be it for me. I only ever vote to keep the Natsis out but I'll just quit voting altogether if they fail my expectations.

    • ianmac 13.1

      I will expect major changes to happen almost immediately

      Which is why it is important that Labour signals significant changes before the vote. Be poor politically to not give a heads up soon.

  14. PsyclingLeft.Always 14

    Bryan Bruce… "For the Greatest Good"


    Just Yes ! Reset NZ

  15. SPC 15

    children and working people deserve help

    Meals in schools and better quality rentals with only an annual rent increase, increasing the amount someone can earn from part-time work in addition to the benefit before any abatement – single from $90 to $160 a week and from $160 to $250 a week for those with dependent children.

    That and MW to $20 an hour MW next April, the expansion of living wage and the industry awards supposedly coming this term are not nothing. And restration of the TIA.

    On top of the extra $25 a week in mainline benefits, the Power Payment Income Supplement and easier access to grants, real progress.

    And note that National is not offering much resistance, so it is sustainable progressive change – like WFF tax credits and interest free tertiary loans were.

    It is a pity there was not also

    1. at least one free annual check (free clean up) dental visit
    2. an end to repayment of grants until the person gets paid employment (as with tertiary loan repayments)
    3. one year benefit payments to those with working partners (so they can intern or retrain or look for paid work while still financially secure)
    4. a trial of UI for those under 25 outside of FT work and FT study (student allowance is more than ordinary dole level) – this suits the part-time work, casual gig work employment regime around these days better than reporting income while on a benefit.
    5. pay disability at the super rate if single and at the dole rate/UI if living with a working partner.
    • greywarshark 15.1

      Sounds good and practical SPC. Is anyone out there from left government listening – Carmel? Else?

      • Patricia Bremner 15.1.1

        I have heard Jacinda say they would implement all 53 points in the WEAG and had done or begun 23 so far. That is not "nothing".

      • SPC 15.1.2

        These are either things they consider during the second term, or if not done, should be added to their policy for the third term. If all done there are the other recomendations of the WEAG report to consider.

        ATM all we know is they have the WEAG report and are looking at some form of Unemployment Insurance. That can be 12 to 26 to 52 weeks of insurance payout at the rate used recently – $500 a week (twice the normal dole at $250) on losing employment – and thus would include the partner of a working person. As with parental leave the duration can be extended over time after a start at 12 weeks.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.2

      And note that National is not offering much resistance, so it is sustainable progressive change

      National may not be offering much resistance but if they get in power they will be cutting them.

      • SPC 15.2.1

        Sure they need to be questioned closey and directly about their plans before the election. Their squirming will indicate a lot.

      • Kay 15.2.2

        Oh be assured they will, beneficiaries are always their first target but they are certainly not going to make that a pre-election promise!

        Have to say though, they were a bit slow off the mark after 2008, it was 6 months before their 'reforms' kicked in. Getting slack.

      • mac1 15.2.3

        Collins made that pretty clear when she dismissed the reiterated points by Campbell that her tax cuts would only supply $8 pw to the lowest waged. The point that it was the poor who spent the money straight up as a boost to the economy was as well ignored.

        Ask this. Why did not National promise a universal payment as the Labour Government used in 1936 to boost the economy, rather than tax cuts mostly benefitting the wealthy to be spent offshore or paying off loans?

        • At the start of 1936 (following a decision made by the newly elected Labour cabinet in December 1935), a special grant consisting of a week's pay was introduced for the unemployed, together with an additional amount for those in receipt of outdoor relief.

        In 2020, a payment of a minimum week's wage of $750 to 430,000 subsidised workers would be $322,500,000. A similar payment to our unemployed of 4% would cost $83 million to 111,000 workers (figures from early Covid).

        That $400 million would be paid for by taxing the top 2% as proposed by Labour with some left over.

        • greywarshark

          That money would act like pumping a hurricane lamp. An injection of fuel to warm up the person spending, goes round in diminishing amounts about 3 times being taxed each time and boosts the economy.

          It's called the 'multiplier' effect. It is in the economic books, it is not as if no-one has yet thought about it, uncovered its wonders, it is just that the government locked into neolib is constipated.

          Will someone give those people a nice healthy laxative please? Prunes are supposed to be good, apples for fibre, some nice clean water to wash out the poisons produced by the undoubted stress of trying to pretend you are attending to the repairs needed because of the state of the nation, after too many years under the National State has left us in a state of maladjustment.

  16. JohnSelway 16

    I watched the debate in its entirety. I thought Collins had the edge this time around but I am sure Ardern will bounce back for the next one.

    • SPC 16.1

      It was a little obvious which one had done the morning radio intereview, which one was PM and which one had to win the debate – and so did all the sniping and the looks and all the giggles – and why the camera was on her more of the time (and with favourable lighting*).

      The thing is National needed the PM needled into responding down at that level, and Ardern was either not interested, or too tired to bother.

      • I have one question, did Collins have advance knowledge of the set questions posed, so she could prepare personable/relateable answers?
      • JohnSelway 16.1.1

        Why would you think Collins had advance knowledge of the topics add who would have given them to her?

    • Anne 16.2

      Agree JohnSelway. No amount of spin can say otherwise. Jacinda didn't seem too well prepped for the type of responses required.

      There is no doubting now that Judith swatted up on Muldoon and is conducting an identical campaign strategy. Anyone who was politically active back in 1975 will see the similarities. Different time and different issues but the formula is the same – constantly playing on people's fears till they come to believe they are true and throw in a huge bribe while they’re doing it.

      It worked then and it will work now unless Labour counter with a bit of nous and (dare I say it) mongrel of their own. It doesn't have to come from Jacinda.

      • JohnSelway 16.2.1

        You're actually the second person who has mentioned to Muldoon angle to me

        • Tiger Mountain

          Heh, my partner while watching the debate said “she looks like Muldoon!”

          Agree with various others above, on what happened. Jacinda’s stylist needs a tune up too. And the studio lighting and camera cut aways favoured Collins.

          Snappier answers are needed for a quipper like Judith. “We have a plan” say Nats–“Sure you have you got your figures right?” is an obvious rejoinder. Sarcasm is not JA’s style but more oomph is definitely needed…

          • Dennis Frank

            You're the fourth or fifth person to mention that here, and Gordon Campbell did likewise on Werewolf. Anyone who has worked to television (or theatre) production knows that lighting the positions talent will occupy onstage is both elementary and traditional craft.

            My career was in tv post-production (editing) but even I know that! Therefore it follows that the lighting set-up was deliberate. Intended to subtly disadvantage the PM. Those here who have a congenital aversion to conspiracy theories will contort themselves via linguistic gymnastics in an attempt to deny this likelihood, so expect to be entertained…

            • Tiger Mountain

              It is hard to conclusively establish that view really, somewhat similarly RNZ seems to sometimes slow down the cadence and rapid fire mode when interviewing Mrs Collins.

              But the lighting last night was so obvious–almost a Nixon/JFK moment–though the Labour leader has to cut it regardless.

              • Dennis Frank

                The person at TVNZ who orchestrated it will get away with it if Labour folk don't put in a formal complaint. Since everyone here knows I'm not a Labour supporter I'm just mentioning the situation as a public service. I've spent a lifetime trying to provide a positive alternative to kiwi idiocy, but I know trying to help Labour folk is too much like pushing shit uphill. Of course it can't be proven. What can be done is to get pro lighting directors to provide their opinion from watching the debate. Ask them to explain the difference. Would the BSA do that? Of course not!

                • Cinny

                  A friend who works in the TV industry said similar. Both the lighting and camera angles were stacked against the PM.

            • Anne

              I worked at AKTV in the late 60s Frank as an audio operator so I can attest to your suspicion.. Even then there were all sorts of ways to give one person a superior TV image that someone else. Camera angles for a start.

              I'll back you on that one.

            • indiana

              Don't they tape and 'X' on the floor and tell the person to stand exactly there?

          • SPC

            Which leads to this.


        • Anne

          Oh, and he went to enormous lengths to denigrate Bill Rowling and he succeeded in creating an image of a silly little man who was a grossly a incompetent PM. He was nothing of the sort. But Rowling was a gentleman and like Ardern a thoroughly decent person. He was a former Army Colonel (iirc) so he clearly wasn't an incompetent fool.

          Nobody thought Muldoon could win that 1975t election and he did.

      • tc 16.2.2

        Step up Winnie perhaps, now our never for NZF with their polling and the grand old statesman will be very familiar with piggy's playbook.

  17. Anker 17

    Ok Collins seems to be going full bitch mode “poor wee thing” when referring to Jacinda. She is desperate and has nothing to loose.

    henry cook writes that A group of National MPs have been misquoting the PM from the leaders debate last night"……..watch Nats esculate nastiness for the next three weeksfor the next

  18. Corey Humm 18

    That debate reminded me of Helen Clark v Key in 2008.

    In 2017 Ardern was a brilliant campaigner, who acted bold,excited and spoke with emotion and gave short answers and spoke like a regular person and made announcements on the fly at times and was exciting.

    Last night she sounded like a tired Labour party android academic uni professor (like Clark did in 2008 when asked "what does it mean to be wealthy")

    What the hell happened in the last three years. Constant coaching from the Labour party to never say anything that the party might disagree with? As much as I have issue with Ardern only using her capital to throw left wing policies in the bin , her kinda unproven and roughness and lite populism was what made her a vote winning superstar. She could have been any Labour party drone last night.

    In 2017 she spoke like normal people and would often answer "in a word yes" last night she seemed unwilling to really answer a single question because unlike in 2017 when she had nothing to lose Labour has all these new voters from the nats who they are worried of spooking but what if they are swarming to Ardern because they want bold leadership and bold policies the risk for labour is that being timid and status quo and being status quo might turn off more voters who will stay home than not spooking former Nat voters.

    Ardern needs to come out with something big and bold and answer questions like a human being and address poverty welfare rather than listing cherry picked policy wonked data.

    Otherwise if she's gonna be a Helen Clark she needs to be Helen Clark and actually attack, Clark would have attacked nationals fudged numbers, their leaks, their revolving leadership door in a global crisis Judith's trust and corruption. Honestly last night we had the worst of both worlds

    Labour needs to get people excited. They have more to lose by being timid. They seem to be running on am assumption that people are flocking to a self described bold transformational progressive in the hopes of electing a timid tinkering small c consersative. I think that's a major miscalculation.

    • SPC 18.1

      Partly it was tiredness, partly not wanting to be reduced down to negativity and as to strategy – yeah sure not over-reaching so as to keep the centre on-side.

      Tiredness explains not going beyond the small amount – $8 tax cuts for those on lower incomes (an extra $1.10 a week MW under Labour next April is after all $44 a week).

      The more direct risposte is those still in work and those receiving the benefit of lower mortgage costs on their home and their rental do not need any assistance via tax cuts, and yet these are the people who would get most of the tax cut money.

      • greywarshark 18.1.1

        PM Ardern needs to get rested and have a line or two in hand to give her a boost and Labour, so something memorably positive registers with the hacks and hopefuls. So that Labour wins – just dance around in the ring and let her take some potshots and save your strength for the two points, as a basecourse.

  19. Reality 19

    Feedback I have had – 22 year old granddaughter watched a bit but commented Collins was sooooo smug. Someone else commented she hates Collins. People can see Collins' true nasty nature. She is a female Muldoon and my guess is decent reasonable people are turned off.

    Jacinda will need to be more assertive next time. She can be, and still be that classy person she is. Hopefully lighting, staging etc will be better. She should wear a bright colour too. The darkish lighting and dark jacket shaded her usual vibrant self.

    • tc 19.1

      IMO Punch n Judy were always about shoring up the base. So not appealing to reasonable people I don’t see as an issue that concerns them.

    • RosieLee 19.2

      Yes. My thoughts exactly. She was not well served by tv or her advisors. And she does look tired. Other senior Ministers need to step up, but I'm not holding my breath.

  20. Cinny 20

    Really proud of our PM for not going down that rude condescending path that judith did last night.

    In this mornings media interviews judith came across as arrogant and self centred, like a kid with a lolly jar that won't share.

  21. Brian Tregaskin 21

    Jessica Mutch-McKay –Jess is a very smart operator in her choice of talking to Jennifer Lees-Marshment post debate—come on Jess really?

    Jennifer Lees-Marshment CV

    Informal meetings with New Zealand National Party leader John Key to discuss political marketing 2007-8
    Practice/practically oriented research and advice

    Advised Young Nats about improving their Facebook site in relation to e-marketing principles, New Zealand, June 2013

    Applied research for the New Zealand Act Party. This included a report and Keynote address, at the 2009 ACT Conference

    entitled ‘Political Marketing Plan for Act 2009-2011′ and applied international theory to data conducted and provided by Act including focus groups with voters and interviews with MPs and candidates.

    Applied research for the New Zealand National Party: discussions with Professor Steve Bridges about applying political marketing lessons to the membership provision and a presentation ‘Regional political marketing’ to the National Party Northern Region Conference October 2007

  22. Sacha 22

    The Gordon Campbell article some have mentioned: https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL2009/S00115/on-last-nights-leaders-debate.htm

    Do political debates change voter intentions, and cause voters to switch sides? According to a 2019 Harvard Business School study conducted across 61 elections in nine countries involving 172,000 respondents, the answer would seem to be a resounding “No.” Political debates have little effect on voter behaviour, let alone on election outcomes.

    Even then, the study found the political debates were less important factors in shaping voter intentions than the media coverage of the campaign and the conversations held among friends.

    In other words, the effect is mainly how the debate is reported afterwards. Including social media.

    And a good point about TVNZ's noticeably biased production setup last night:

    Collins was more energetic, crisper and more confident. She was also more brightly lit and kindly positioned on set, and face on to the camera. Ardern was partly in shadow, and needed to turn to address the camera.

    If that sounds like nit-picking, keep in mind that the example (her “strong finish”) cited approvingly by TVNZ’s expert panel, also happened to be the one time when the camera had Ardern front and centre….although still underlit.

    • Sacha 22.1

      Controlling the message afterwards is more important than what people actually experienced:

      • Incognito 22.1.1

        Those numbers look vaguely familiar.

      • Robert Guyton 22.1.2

        "Controlling the message afterwards is more important than what people actually experienced:"

        100% Sacha. Judith's crew are out and about, translating the debate for National's followers.
        If I was Jacinda's strategist, I'd have advised her to be coy and unremarkable during the first debate, knowing that Judith would be testing just how far she can go with the put-downs; she increased them as the debate progressed. Then in the second, provoke more and more of them, by feigning "softness", something Judith can't abide. It won't take long until Judith oversteps the mark, repeatedly, and the audience, and the media in attendance, seizes upon the Cruella behaviour and translates that into headlines that can't be recovered-from. Judith's nastiness is her Achilles heel; provide every opportunity for her to express herself most fully, I say.

    • Pat 22.2

      "What the Harvard study found was that nearly three quarters of voters have already made their minds up as early as two months before Election Day."

      and 100% of the pundits

      • Incognito 22.2.1

        Isn’t that the definition of “pundit”: someone who knows absolutely and 100% pure that they are right and will only change their mind over their dead body?

        • Pat

          pundit = expert

          expert= unknown drip under pressure, or so the saying goes.

          Must admit however that threequarter number is surprising.

  23. Brian Tregaskin 23


    If you listen closely i think Judith also muttered "I love you Ms Ardern"

    Was she trying to emulate Rob Muldoon in the debate against David Lange?

  24. ianmac 24

    Not sure how to link this so I copied it in full. via Philip Matthews.


  25. Austringer 25

    Time for a back to the future look, and it reminded me of the debates between Bill Rowling and Piggy Muldoon.

  26. Austringer 26

    Debate win or loose, the Day is the Day, best not reply like, no my homes are not mine, their the Trusts. Collins, answering about the homes she owns and the possible Taxation.
    Not the best to say, yet in there the losing , in my opinion.

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