National leader Christopher Luxon said it was incredibly sad for him to see the Prime Minister getting “so personal and so negative” on the campaign trail.
It comes after Chris Hipkins used the announcement on Sunday morning where he ruled out working with New Zealand First to unleash an attack on Luxon, who has not ruled out working with NZ First leader Winston Peters.
Hipkins criticised NZ First, which he said had become “more interested in toilets than the issues that really matter”.
The Prime Minister then labelled a potential National-Act-NZ First government a “Coalition of Fear”.
“The National-Act-New Zealand First coalition of cuts, chaos and confusion holds a compilation of views I think would alienate large sections of our society,” Hipkins had said.
“It is incredibly sad that Chris Hipkins has decided to go so personal and so negative,” Luxon told media.
“I understand it because he has no record to run on – he has no ideas to take the country forward.
“Chris Hipkins is really desperate, and it’s sad to see.
”We’ve got a positive plan to take New Zealanders forward.”
Luxon is refusing to say if National would work with NZ First, saying the party is “not above the threshold” and Winston is “not in Parliament”.
He said under National, there would be no change to abortion law, funding or access.
Earlier, Hipkins ruled out Labour working with NZ First and the Act Party as coalition partners.
He ruled out forming a coalition with NZ First and its leader Winston Peters after the election, and criticised the party, saying it had become “more interested in toilets than the issues that really matter”.
Hipkins also went on the attack against Act’s “radical craziness”.
Recent political polling is showing Peters close to returning to Parliament, with NZ First holding around 4 per cent of the party vote.
Hipkins made the announcement from Parliament alongside his party’s deputy leader Kelvin Davis and president Jill Day.
“Division isn’t a path to progress, and it’s just not how I operate,” he said.
“In this campaign, I will promote a message of unity, and intend to work with parties and leaders that think the same. That doesn’t mean I won’t criticise my opposition – in fact, I must… But I won’t seek to divide our communities.”
Hipkins said Labour has worked with Peters and NZ First in government twice.
“We’re the only party New Zealand First have managed to complete a full term of Government with, but the rhetoric I’m hearing from Winston Peters in this election means I just don’t see any compatibility with my vision for an inclusive, progressive and prosperous society,” he said.
“Winston Peters and New Zealand First are a force for instability and chaos, and that’s the last thing the country needs right now.”
Similarly, Peters has previously ruled out working with Labour. However, he has not ruled out working with National.