Chris Hipkins promises a ‘vigorous campaign’ as Labour drops in the polls

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Labour leader Chris Hipkins is promising a vigorous campaign to combat National. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Chris Hipkins says Labour will be fighting back with a vigorous campaign as he aims to restore voters’ faith in his party as a new poll shows diminishing support.

Senior Labour MPs are still standing by their leader after last night’s 1News Verian poll had Labour dropping four percentage points to 29 per cent and are emphasising the danger they see in a potential National/Act government.

The poll had National and Act comfortably able to form a government with 65 seats between them. The gap between Hipkins and National’s Christopher Luxon in preferred Prime Minister ratings had also closed to just one per cent.

Hipkins this morning repeated his previous statements that he’d dealt with some “really difficult issues” since taking over as PM from Jacinda Ardern, which included losing several ministers from his Cabinet.


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“I’m looking forward to getting on the campaign trail and talking to New Zealanders about my vision for the future and what I hope to achieve.”

Chris Hipkins was confident Labour's issues with ministers wouldn't continue. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Chris Hipkins was confident Labour’s issues with ministers wouldn’t continue. Photo / Mark Mitchell

He said he was “absolutely” confident no further issues with his ministers would arise and hoped further scrutiny would go on National and Act policies.

“Christopher Luxon seems to be telling people they can have a whole lot of extra stuff and tax cuts and not increase government borrowing; that simply doesn’t add up.”

Hipkins claimed National had been “relentlessly negative” about the Government and suggested Labour might follow suit, but not to the same level.


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“We haven’t been as negative or as critical about their approach and maybe we should be a little more.

He said he would not turn the campaign nasty but said it would be “vigorous” and Labour would be “fighting back”.

Last night’s poll was conducted between August 12-16, which included when Labour promised to rid GST from fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables if elected – a policy widely criticised by tax experts.

Despite extensive coverage at the time, Hipkins today said Labour’s internal polling suggested only about a third of people had heard about it.

He added his party’s polling was broadly in line with last night’s poll, but it had put Labour a little higher than 29 per cent.

Senior Labour MP Grant Robertson believed it took time for policies to filter through to the public and said it was very rare that individual policies decided elections.

He supported Hipkins’ record as Labour leader and said there was no point at which Hipkins would be rolled.

“It’s been a really difficult and challenging period for him to manage as leader, I think he’s doing a good job and I think he’ll campaign well.”

Labour Māori caucus co-chairperson Willie Jackson recalled 2017, while expressing his confidence in Labour’s support increasing.

“Eight weeks out, we were 24 per cent and the National Party was 47 per cent,” Jackson said of the 2017 election.


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“Now we’re 29 per cent and they’re 37 per cent, a four per cent swing and this could go either way.”

He accepted some in the party had let Hipkins down.

“Let’s be frank about it, we lost four ministers for goodness’ sake, so I don’t think it takes a genius to work out that we’re going to have a bit of a drop in the polls.”

Jackson quickly pivoted to describing Act and National as a “dangerous right-wing centre” and claimed Act in particular was running a “campaign of fear”.

He also called on Luxon to rule out Act’s policy to hold a referendum on the definitions of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

“If Luxon was to agree with Seymour, he would be walking on the mana of Jim Bolger, of Doug Graham, of John Key and of Bill English.”


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Labour agriculture spokesperson Damien O’Connor said people should be asking how National would fund its policies and who was donating to the party.

“We just have to get people to ask the questions of the Opposition and see what the alternative is and … start asking questions around where funding comes for roading, where funding comes from for these unbudgeted promises.”

Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.

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