Inside the Beehive: 6 weeks to go  - Campbell Squared
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Inside the Beehive: 6 weeks to go 

The election period is now in full swing, with both Labour and National launching their respective campaigns on the weekend. The 53rd Parliament has concluded, and now MPs and prospective MPs will don their party colours in a bid to rally votes and give themselves the best chance at forming a Government.  

So, what happened last week? Here is a breakdown alongside why it is important for you and your business or organisation. 

The Substance 

Labour launch campaign by promising free dental for under 30s 

Launching their 2023 campaign in Auckland on Saturday, Labour has promised free dental care for New Zealanders under-30, to be rolled out up to 2026. Their likely coalition partner in the Greens have offered universal dental care, to be paid for by a wealth tax, so expect to see some type of free dental care should the Labour and the Greens form part of the next Government. 

Labour’s policy has received some backlash, and questions have been raised about how it will be paid for. Labour’s Chris Hipkins said the policy would cost $390 million, but those figures have since been refuted by the Dental Association, who suggest they may even need to be doubled before the policy is fully implemented, in stages to 2026.

Back to basics for the Nats, and a core promise on tax  

Christopher Luxon launched National’s campaign on Father’s Day in Auckland, but interestingly, didn’t kick it off with a policy announcement. Instead, National laid out their eight priorities, in postcard form, heading into the election – perhaps some foreshadowing that they will be sticking to basic core issues that are facing New Zealanders, rather than branching out. None of National’s priorities are new, and all restate previous areas of policy priority, from lowering inflation, restoring law and order, and cutting health waiting times – all areas National has already indicated would be a focus for the party in Government. 

They’ve also laid out keeping money in Kiwis’ pockets as a priority, and earlier in the week, released their ‘Back Pocket Boost’ tax relief plan. This will likely be their hallmark policy for the election, and one which successive National campaigns have run on. The policy has landed well with commentators, so far, however there are starting to be questions over some of the financial assumptions made to make the policy be ‘self-funding.’ Christopher Luxon is going to be under pressure in coming days to outline how their numbers stack up – particularly after last election campaign when gaping holes quickly emerged in the National Party economic plan of 2020.   

ACT on energy reform 

Leader David Seymour spent the weekend delivering ACT’s energy policy, which is founded on reliable, clean and cheap energy for all New Zealanders. ACT has committed to reversing the oil and gas ban (and so has National), and they are promising a regulatory framework to support carbon capture, alongside wanting to fast-track permits for new developments of offshore wind. With ACT and their likely coalition partner on the same page here, this policy is likely to come to fruition should the right bloc form a government come October.  

The Analysis 

The campaign has already taken a nasty turn with attack ads going public and large-scale protests being held to undermine party events. Expect to see more of that coming through over the next six-weeks, and expect to see it evolve and become even more heated.  

Minor parties have a lot to say this election. They are promising a lot, but questions must be asked as to how much they can actually deliver. Since the mixed-member proportional, or MMP system , was introduced, minor parties have featured in every single Government, either as coalition partners or by providing confidence and supply votes to negotiated legislation (not everything, but supportive of the main, budget legislation). But in order to get to that point, compromises need to be made and deals need to be struck, so what might that look like this year? 

Labour won’t have the luxury of a majority this year, and based on current polling they will be reliant on the Greens and Te Pāti Māori. Labour and NZ First have mutually ruled out working together, making this their only credible coalition option. The Greens and Te Pāti Māori have categorically called for some form of a wealth tax, but Labour has ruled it out. That will put them all in an interesting negotiating position if they do have the numbers.  

On the other side, National and ACT have the numbers to form a Government, according to the latest polling. But if NZ First reach that elusive 5 percent threshold to enter Parliament, they may also be needed by National. Again, there are some stark differences in policy and direction between all three of these parties and significant negotiations, including jostling for Cabinet positions, could be needed.  

The minor and fringe parties teetering around that 2 percent mark on current polls have a license to say or do a lot more than the major parties prior to the election. They can promise the world to voters, and then never ultimately have to deliver it as it gets washed away either by not making it to Government, or it getting snubbed out in election negotiations.  

By the time October 14 arrives, we would have heard hundreds of policy announcements and promises from all political parties, but only a mere few will ever make it through the process and become law. That is why we always recommend not jumping at every policy announcement or commenting publicly on everything you see, and instead, taking a measured approach that looks at the likelihood of it becoming law.  

That’s where we come in. We are analysing and deciphering the politics to ensure that your organisation or business is on message and not getting sucked into announcements or rhetoric that in the long-term may never eventuate. We’re here to help over the next six weeks and beyond, so don’t be afraid to reach out.