Dig­ger rips hole in Nats’ agenda for fi­nal push

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - Au­drey Young

It has reached that part of the elec­tion cam­paign called the con­sol­i­da­tion pe­riod, for Na­tional at least.

That is a fancy way of say­ing that the ma­jor poli­cies have been an­nounced (ex­cept for the odd lo­cal road­ing project) and it is time to wheel out the old poli­cies in a repack­aged form to ram home what­ever mes­sages mat­ter most.

Yes­ter­day Na­tional MP Jami-Lee Ross or­gan­ised a whole lot of fam­i­lies to show up at the Lone Star restau­rant in Botany Town Cen­tre for Bill English to “con­sol­i­date” Na­tional’s fam­ily fo­cused-poli­cies.

On Saturday Todd McClay had or­gan­ised an event in a Ro­torua re­tire­ment vil­lage for Bill English to con­sol­i­date Na­tional’s se­niors pol­icy.

It is also time each party hopes that the mis­takes that in­evitably hap­pen in cam­paigns oc­cur in the en­emy camp, not your own.

No one quite reck­oned on the cam­paign be­ing af­fected by a man in a dig­ger look­ing for kauri up north break­ing a pipe­line.

The mo­ment that Labour leader Jacinda Ardern got wind of it, she was rais­ing is­sues every other Kiwi was ask­ing, about se­cu­rity of fuel sup­ply — in this case avi­a­tion fuel — whether the law had been fol­lowed re­gard­ing re­serves, and whether the Gov­ern­ment had man­aged fuel se­cu­rity prop­erly.

In an elec­tion in which Na­tional is sell­ing it­self as the best and proven man­agers of the coun­try, this was a par­tic­u­larly un­wel­come mis­take.

As an MP with a nearby elec­torate, Ju­dith Collins, who is also En­ergy Min­is­ter, was on hand with English in Botany.

They did not re­veal any­thing about the fuel short­age un­til asked by re­porters.

Clearly they had planned for this to be a prob­lem of the pri­vate sec­tor, not Gov­ern­ment.

And every re­sponse was about of­fer­ing help.

As luck would have it for English, the “mis­take” of the day on which he seized was that of Greens Party leader James Shaw who, in an in­ter­view on Q + A, said the Greens would try to ne­go­ti­ate for a cap­i­tal gains tax to be in­tro­duced in a first-term LabourGreens Gov­ern­ment.

It showed pres­sure be­tween the op­po­si­tion par­ties, he said, and while Labour was de­lay­ing the tax, they may still have to ne­go­ti­ate with the Greens to be in Gov­ern­ment and the Greens had more ex­treme views than Labour.

“The choice is pretty clear — if peo­ple vote for Na­tional there won’t be any ex­ten­sion of cur­rent taxes. If they vote for Labour, they could end up with a dis­cus­sion with the Greens for all the taxes Labour tried not to talk about . . .”

Ardern was quick to scotch any sug­ges­tion the Green Party would get its way — say­ing her late de­ci­sion not to im­ple­ment a cap­i­tal gains tax in a first term was “non-ne­go­tiable”.

English be­gan the day’s cam­paign­ing at Ci­gale Mar­ket with Ep­som list MP Paul Gold­smith, who is cam­paign­ing only for the party vote.

Pic­ture / Doug Sher­ring

Bill English on the cam­paign trail at La Ci­gale Mar­ket in Par­nell.

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