Support for Jacinda Ardern and NZ Labour sinks to lowest since 2017, poll shows

Labour and Ardern were immensely popular during the pandemic but inflation and deepening social inequality has changed their fortunes

Support for New Zealand’s Labour party has dropped to its lowest level since it came into power in 2017, new polling shows, amid growing frustrations over high cost of living, rising interest rates and concerns about crime.

A Kantar One News Poll released on Tuesday night found Labour, down 1% to 33%, would not be able to form a government alongside likely coalition partners the Green party, which remained steady on 9%, and the Māori party, steady on 2%.

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‘I’m tired of asking adults to save the planet’: readers have their say on lowering the voting age in NZ

The New Zealand supreme court’s decision to declare the current age of voting, 18, discriminatory has reignited a debate over young people’s rights

Are today’s teenagers politically aware wunderkinds on the frontlines of the climate crisis, underdeveloped thinkers with perpetually messy bedrooms – or – just people, with the same foolishness, foibles or ignorance as other members of the voting public?

Questions over teenagers’ decision-making abilities have been in the headlines this week, after New Zealand’s supreme court declared in a landmark ruling that the current voting age – 18 years old – was discriminatory against younger New Zealanders. In response, the government has pledged to introduce legislation to lower the age and for parliament to vote on it in the next six months.

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New Zealand’s supreme court has forced voting age on to agenda, exposing absurd arguments for status quo | Henry Cooke

The newly empowered supreme court has blown up the long-running debate on youth voting, but parliament has shrugged off its intervention

Names can be deceiving. While many Kiwis might assume that our supreme court is in fact supreme – able to strike down laws and change the country – it is not. Like the UK, parliament in New Zealand is supreme. Even if the courts decide parliament’s laws disagree with the Bill of Rights Act, the democratic body is able to tell the court to stick to complex tax cases, thanks. Nothing handcuffs parliament, nothing is above it.

Yet the supreme court was recently handed new power to force issues on to the agenda of parliament, and has almost immediately used it to blow up the long-running debate about youth voting, exposing the silly positions of most involved.

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Jacinda Ardern rallies party faithful as Labour faces difficult re-election path

New Zealand PM tells party conference ‘we are not done yet’ as poll shows Labour’s support at 5-year low ahead of elections in 2023

In the darkened amphitheatre of a south Auckland conference centre, a youth choir swayed, as crowds waited for the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to take the stage. “Give me one more chance,” they sang, in a medley featuring the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back. “Won’t you please let me back in your heart.”

It was an apt-enough score for the annual Labour conference, with the party facing a steep uphill road to persuade New Zealanders to return them to office for another three years. “We are not done yet,” Ardern told the party faithful, as delegates sought to map a pathway to election victory in an increasingly sour economic and political landscape. Three days of speeches and discussions built a picture of a party girding itself for a bitterly fought campaign: speeches were laced with jabs at centre-right opposition leader Christopher Luxon, warnings of the prospect of gains rolled back under a National government, and encouragement to stay the course under fire.

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Will New Zealand’s opposition fall into the same tax trap as Liz Truss? | Henry Cooke

New Zealand and the UK both have top tax rates that raise little revenue but lie as potent political traps for parties on the right

Grant Robertson and Gordon Brown have quite a lot in common.

Robertson, New Zealand’s finance minister and deputy PM, had dreams of leading his Labour party while it wallowed in opposition, just as Brown did with his. Like Brown, Robertson ended up putting these dreams on hold and settling for the finance portfolio as a more charismatic ally took the party to victory.

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Former New Zealand PM John Key says he would have voted for Trump and Bolsonaro

Influential National party figure said he had never voted ‘anything other than right’, but that some on the right were ‘getting pretty crazy’

Former New Zealand prime minister Sir John Key has suggested he would have voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 US election, and far-right president Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s 2022 elections, had he been eligible to do so.

Key, who served three terms as prime minister from 2008 to 2016, revealed his preferences in a quick-fire round of 20 questions that featured at the end of a new online series called Both Sides Now, hosted by members of the Labour and National youth wings.

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New Zealand’s local elections appear to show a backlash against Ardern. The reality is more complex

Many cities chose conservative candidates but the results were less about national trends than local conditions

Every year between 2008 and 2016, political commentators would reliably announce that former prime minister John Key’s “honeymoon” was finally over.

The Herald on Sunday was perhaps the first outlet to call time – marking the second week of May 2009 as “the moment the honeymoon came to a crashing halt”. New Zealanders disagreed, and Sir John’s polling held. In the nine years that National were in government their immovable ratings became a running joke. “The year is 7059”, wrote the essayist Giovanni Tiso. “Small bands of humans roam the barren New Zealand landscape in search of food. National’s polling is steady at 49%.” It took Sir John’s retirement, and Jacinda Ardern’s Labour leadership, to register a meaningful change in their parties’ popularity.

Morgan Godfery (Te Pahipoto, Sāmoa) is a senior lecturer at the University of Otago and a columnist at Metro

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‘A shift in political thinking’: many of New Zealand’s cities lurch right in local elections

Experts say the progressive vote is disillusioned with incremental changes brought in by Ardern Labour government

Late in the campaign period of Auckland’s mayoral election came a spate of strange, oddly specific, billboard vandalism. As the race in New Zealand’s most populous city wound to its conclusion, boardings for Efeso Collins, an independent progressive candidate and mayoral frontrunner, were plasteredwith red “Labour” party logos.

Compared with the moustaches and monobrows that typically bedeck election billboards, it seemed an innocuous choice for vandals. But Collins’ campaign said it was an act of politicised sabotage. “None of our allies or volunteers have been doing it,” a spokesperson told The Spinoff. “We believe it’s an attack tactic.”

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From minister to lobbyist in three months: New Zealand needs to do better on transparency

The rules should not allow an MP to be reading cabinet papers in July and then lobbying former colleagues in October

Every year, New Zealand’s headline writers get a chance to clap the country on the back.

There is nothing we love more than being “first in the world” at something – whether it be flat whites or rugby union – and Transparency International’s corruption perception index fits the bill perfectly, generally putting us equal first with other enlightened small democracies like Denmark.

Henry Cooke is former chief political reporter for New Zealand news organisation Stuff

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New Zealand National party reinstates MP after inquiry clears him of bullying

Sam Uffindell had been stood down after allegations he had bullied a female housemate while at university

A New Zealand MP who has apologised for attacking a fellow student at high school has been reinstated to the opposition National party after an inquiry cleared him of bullying a female flatmate while at university.

Sam Uffindell had been suspended so the party could carry out an investigation into allegations of violence and intimidating behaviour at university, but on Monday he was reinstated to his former position, after the investigation found no evidence of bullying after high school.

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New Zealand avoids recession as eased Covid measures help spur 1.7% GDP growth

After a decline in the previous quarter, the economy rebounded on the back of spending on travel and recreation

Increased spending on travel and leisure driven by eased Covid restrictions has helped helped New Zealand dodge recession, with its economy growing 1.7% in the quarter that ended in June.

That growth reverses a 0.2% drop in GDP the previous quarter, and means the country escapes a “technical recession”, defined as two consecutive quarterly drops in GDP.

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Is this when New Zealand breaks up with the monarchy? Don’t count on it | Henry Cooke

Republicans may think the Queen’s death means their moment has arrived, but they can’t just rely on New Zealanders’ appetite for reform

New Zealand has a strong habit of changing itself.

Unlike countries with prescriptive written rules of play, the tangle of norms, documents and legislation that make up our “constitution” can adapt to a changing world, or the demands of citizens.

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How the politics of love could revolutionise New Zealand’s refugee policy

We like to think we help those in need, but the truth is we could and should be doing much more for the world’s displaced people

Our world is careening into crisis. In May this year, the United Nations’ refugee agency announced that, for the first time, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide has reached 100 million.

When 1 in 78 people globally have been forced to flee their homes, and as climate change threatens to displace more than 1 billion more of us by 2050, we need to ask ourselves: is our current refugee policy adequate?

Tamkeen Saeid is a refugee from Afghanistan who works as a lawyer in New Zealand

Philip McKibbin is a New Zealand writer

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New Zealand’s shadow foreign affairs spokesperson faces criticism for response to UN report on Uyghurs

Gerry Brownlee says report on human rights violations in Xinjiang recognises China is ‘dealing with a terrorist problem’

New Zealand’s shadow foreign affairs spokesperson said a UN report on the human rights abuses of Uyghurs includes recognition that China is “dealing with a terrorist problem essentially”, in remarks criticised by China analysts.

“It’s good that it acknowledges that there has been a terrorism problem in the particular part of China that the report is on,” Gerry Brownlee, a lawmaker for the centre-right National party, told Radio New Zealand (RNZ) on Thursday in an interview about the UN findings.

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Blunt, passionate and sometimes reckless, New Zealand’s newest ambassador has rarely been diplomatic | Henry Cooke

Freshly appointed envoy to Ireland Trevor Mallard did much good in his time in parliament, but never shied from controversy – sometimes to his cost

It is hard to find someone in New Zealand who does not have a strong opinion about Trevor Mallard.

The man just appointed ambassador to Ireland will take up the post with a long list of controversies to his name, after decades as an MP and five years as speaker of New Zealand’s house. Ireland can expect an envoy not cut from the usual bland diplomat mould – someone deeply loyal to his friends but recklessly impulsive with his enemies.

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