Na­tional makes a run for glory

Herald on Sunday - - ON THE TRAIL - By Nicholas Jones Mine This Lit­tle Light of Pass the Dutchie.

Thou­sands of Na­tional Party faith­ful are ex­pected to turn out to­day at the of­fi­cial cam­paign launch — an event the party will hope pro­vide new mo­men­tum.

Na­tional re­leased a new cam­paign ad over the week­end, show­ing its team of blue-clad run­ners strid­ing past the op­po­si­tion.

But many in Na­tional will be look­ing over their shoul­ders at Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, who has shown no sign of slow­ing down since thou­sands of sup­port­ers packed the Auck­land Town Hall last week­end at Labour’s cam­paign launch.

With only a week un­til elec­tion month, to­day’s cam­paign open­ing in West Auck­land will give Na­tional the chance to launch pol­icy and dom­i­nate the head­lines — and the party will make sure sup­port­ers show up in num­bers.

Leader Bill English will travel on the party’s cam­paign bus from cen­tral Auck­land to Trusts Arena, and give his ad­dress in the af­ter­noon.

Ardern will be in Christchurch for the day, where she will un­veil Labour’s plan to ac­cel­er­ate the re­build. Her ap­pear­ance comes af­ter Na­tional on Thurs­day pledged an ex­tra $120 mil­lion to build a new sta­dium.

The Labour leader yes­ter­day un­veiled pol­icy to slash the cost of GP vis­its — just five days af­ter Na­tional an­nounced it would ex­tend $18 doc­tor vis­its to 600,000 more Ki­wis.

Ardern said Labour would re­duce the cost of those vis­its to $8, and also cut the cost of vis­it­ing doc­tors for New Zealan­ders not on low in­comes by about $10, if their GP prac­tice signs up.

She made the an­nounce­ment at Labour’s Pa­cific cam­paign launch in Auck­land, walk­ing with a leather jacket-clad David Tua through crowds of sup­port­ers at Man­gere town cen­tre, as conch shells were blown and drums beaten.

A choir sang

and prayers were of­fered, be­fore the pace changed with reg­gae clas­sic

Na­tional Party cam­paign chair Steven Joyce crit­i­cised the GP pol­icy as an­other “me too” pol­icy that was es­sen­tially copied from Na­tional.

“They have lit­er­ally copied Na­tional’s an­nounce­ment from last week tar­get­ing low-in­come New Zealan­ders and tacked on a $10 uni­ver­sal sub­sidy over the top,” Joyce said.

English spent the day cam­paign­ing in the Queen­stown area, in­clud­ing a walk-about at the Re­mark­ables Park Town Cen­tre, where he took a turn man­ning the check­out at the lo­cal New World.

At Lake Hayes Pavil­ion English an­nounced Na­tional, if re-elected, will crack down on free­dom camp­ing, in­clud­ing by re­strict­ing overnight stays for tourists with­out self­con­tained ve­hi­cles to within 200m of toi­let blocks.

The changes would also al­low coun­cils and DoC staff to is­sue in­stant fines for peo­ple break­ing the rules.

If the fine can’t be paid on the spot, it will be as­signed to the ve­hi­cle owner or rental car com­pany.

A still from Na­tional's new elec­tion video.

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