Turei and Ardern both campaign at Otara markets
Venue clash comes as parties vie for support in polls
Former Green Party co- leader Metiria Turei will climb back into the election campaign today with an appearance at an anti- poverty rally.
The rally at the Otara markets coincides with a Labour Party campaign at the same location, as the contest for votes between the two leftwing parties heats up.
Turei has mostly limited her campaigning to her Te Tai Tonga electorate and some work on poverty issues since resigning as Green coleader five weeks ago over historic offending while on welfare.
This afternoon, she and inequality spokeswoman Marama Davidson will lead the party’s rally in South Auckland.
The controversy around Turei dented the Greens’ support and led to a divisive public debate about welfare.
But Davidson said she did not believe it was a risk for Turei to return to the campaign spotlight.
“Not at all. It’s been really clear in the communities and on the ground across the country that people have been inspired and sat up and finally listened because of the role that she has played in this conversation.
“She is in the one that put poverty on the election table.”
Turei would front another antipoverty rally in Porirua before the election.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern will also stop off at the Otara Markets today to begin her day’s campaigning.
Labour and the Greens’ appearance at the same location is coincidental, but comes at a time of heightened competition between the two parties.
Since Ardern became leader, Labour has risen dramatically in the polls, largely at the Greens’ expense.
Ardern has stepped firmly into Green Party territory by placing greater emphasis on climate change and cleaning up New Zealand’s rivers.
In Dunedin yesterday, she spoke to residents affected by flooding in 2015 and said the Government needed to play a greater role in helping local communities to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects.
“Regardless of whether or not it triggers people to vote, actually we’ve got a responsibility, a duty of care to people in these communities to make sure that we’re doing out bit,” she told reporters.
Labour’s announcement of its climate change policy last week, just two days before the Green announced its own climate policy, angered some within the Green Party.
Labour’s policy included a new goal of making New Zealand carbon neutral by 2050, which is straight out of the Green Party manifesto.
The Greens’ former chief of staff Deborah Morris- Travers publicly accused Labour of trying to beat the Greens with a “half- arsed policy”.
She said on Twitter that Labour’s “rush job” to get in before the Greens announcement was “petty”.
Labour’s chief of staff Neale Jones responded by saying that the policy was no rush job and that the Greens were told “well in advance” about it — as required under the two parties’ Memorandum of Understanding.
National Party leader Bill English spent yesterday in Wellington, including a photo- friendly stop off at a kitten sanctuary.
“I have been a dog man but I am going through a conversion here,” English told reporters.
With one week to go until the election English said National wouldn’t make major changes but would focus on “sharpening up the choice that voters have”, including highlighting Labour’s tax plans.
“Between building on the strength of the New Zealand economy and what is now shaping up as quite a different way of managing the economy from Labour . . . they haven’t made a case for large change.”
Ardern also said there would be no change of tack from her party. Labour would spend the final week of campaigning focusing on housing, health and environmental issues.
“After so much drift, we just have so much risk still in the system if we do not change government,” she said. “There is a real risk sticking with the status quo. That will be our message.”
National was not the only one pressing Labour on its tax plans yesterday.
Potential support partner the Maori Party said it wanted Labour to resolve Maori rights and interests in water before considering any tax on freshwater.
“People deserve to know what they’re voting for,” co- leader Marama Fox said. “It’s all well and good saying trust us, but Maori have trust issues when it comes to Labour.”
The Maori Party has taken out advertisements today in the Weekend Herald and regional papers which say the party has “read the mood for change” and wants to be “on the right side of history”.
President Tukuroirangi Morgan said voters should not take that as an endorsement of a Labour- led Government. The advertisement also reminded voters that Labour was the oldest party in Parliament but was “yet to do the right thing” by Maori.