NZ Election 2020: As it happened - Greens, ACT, NZ First, Māori Party, Advance NZ face-off in TV debate

ACT's David Seymour, the Greens' James Shaw, NZ First's Winston Peters, the Māori Party's John Tamihere and Advance NZ's Jami-Lee Ross have faced off in the first multi-party leaders TV debate. 

What you need to know

  • TVNZ's multi-party leaders had a contentious lead-up, with several minor political parties lashing out at not being invited to participate. 
  • For parties to participate, they had to be polling at 3 percent or have a seat in Parliament, but that didn't stop it from relaxing its rules for one party and being taken to court by another. 
  • The Opportunities Party (TOP) lashed out at the state broadcaster for including Advance NZ, which was polling below 3 percent, but it gained a spot because co-leader Jami-Lee Ross - a former National MP - holds the Botany seat in Parliament.  
  • The Māori Party was included in the debate because TVNZ said it recognised its criteria did not adequately consider parties who were only contending Māori electorate seats which impact the make-up of Parliament. 
  • The New Conservatives lost a court battle against the state broadcaster this week to be included. The party spoke out against the 3 percent threshold, with leader Leighton Baker describing it as "a huge hurdle".  
  • A new Colmar-Brunton poll shows Labour on 47 percent, National on 32 percent, ACT on 8 percent, Greens on 6 percent, NZ First on 2 percent, TOP on 2 percent, New Conservatives on 1 percent and Advance NZ on 1 percent. 
  • The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll had Labour on 50.1 percent, National on 29.6 percent, the Greens on 6.5 percent, ACT on 6.3 percent, New Conservatives on 2.1 percent, NZ First on 1.9 percent, the Māori Party on 1.5 percent, and TOP on 0.9 percent.  

These live updates have finished. 

From left to right: Advance NZ co-leader Jami-Lee Ross, Greeb co-leader James Shaw, NZ First leader Winston Peters, ACT leader David Seymour and Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere.
From left to right: Advance NZ co-leader Jami-Lee Ross, Greeb co-leader James Shaw, NZ First leader Winston Peters, ACT leader David Seymour and Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere. Photo credit: Getty

8pm - The party leaders are being asked: Who could you work with?

Ross says he's taking NZ First's voters. 

Seymour says parties have to be in Parliament to be able to work with them, and only the Greens would make it back on the current polls (a dig at NZ First). He says he can't work with Labour becuase they have a skills shortage. 

Peters tells the presenter Jessica Mutch Kckay: "Don't predicate the question on a false poll". 

Tamihere says he's just focussed on getting the Maori seats. 

Shaw says he is in favour of reducing the threshold for parties to get into Parliament to 4 percent rather than 5 percent. 

7:54pm - Should New Zealand become a republic?

"God bless the Queen and all that stuff," but we're old enough to embark on our own, Tamihere says. 

Seymour says it's a long way down the list for us right now. 

Peters says it could be expensive for New Zealand to become a republic. 

7:52pm - The topic is now China and whether we're too dependent on it. 

Ross said we were one of the last to call out China over COVID-19 and says we have too many eggs in their basket. 

Peters said he and Ross have seen the level of money going into politics from China. 

"Don't blame the Chinese - blame our past leadership," Peters said. 

He said he was willing to call out China over several issues as Foreign Minister. 

"Their knees are really knocking," Tamihere jokes, talking about Peters as Foreign Minister. 

Ross says we should be looking to work with other countries instead of China. 

Seymour says we need to diversify away from China carefully. 

7:50pm - Should we have quotas for Maori and Pasific students at medical schools?

Shaw says you end up having to search for those students. 

Tamihere says if you want equity, that's what you have to have. 

Peters says if you teach children properly when they're young, then you won't have to have those sorts of policies. 

"Stop putting Maori down," he said. 

7:47pm - Should private schools get private funding?

Shaw says no. 

Tamihere says no. 

Peters says yes to integrated schools, makes joke about the Green School funding. 

Seymour says yes because the parents pay tax like everyone else. 

Ross says state integrated schools should be supported more. 

7:43pm - The party leaders are talking about housing as house prices continue to boom. 

Peters is asked if he would ever introduce a policy to bring prices down. He says we need to stabilise prices first and deal with the low supply. 

"We are way behind demand, still," he said, explaining how the Government has built more houses than any other Government since the 1970s. 

Tamihere says we need to bring down immigration, and pushed back on the suggestion we need them to help boost the economy. 

To help Maori, he says you have to change the policy settings (pointing to immigration again), and said assets need to be taxed. 

Seymour says it's so hard to build homes, and the Resource Management Act (RMA) needs to be reformed. 

Peters says the housing crisis started under Roger Douglas. 

Shaw says everyone agrees we need more housing supply. He says the median house price can be fixed by building more state housing, as the Government is doing. 

Ross says the sate shouldn't be the solution for everything. 

7:35pm - The party leaders are talking about whether we need to reduce emissions even if it means hurting the economy. 

Ross says "no". 

Shaw says countries that have taken it on board have faster growing economies, such as the UK before COVID-19 hit. 

7:32pm - The party leaders are talking about policies to try and speed up the economic recovery.

Shaw is pitching historical underspending in infrastructure as an opportunity to stimulate the economy for long-term challenges. 

Seymour says infrastructure is important, but what we need is for New Zealanders to offer more jobs, and one way to do that is to cut GST for a year. 

Seymour just called Peters a "silver fox". 

But Peters agrees that dealing with debt is important. 

Tamihere says the basic education system means Maori cannot even participate in the economy anyway, so that's what he wants to help first. 

Shaw is asked if businesses should be given a break, instead of increasing sick leave, etc. 

Shaw says it's important during a pandemic when people should have those kinds of protections to be able to go home when they're sick. 

Seymour says it's the kind of thing that makes it harder for businesses to employ people. He says taxes should be reduced. 

Ross says it's all irrelevant because the economy cannot be grown during lockdowns, which Advance NZ is opposed to. 

He says the other parties want to "rack up more debt". 

"I can't believe Winston Peters is calling me out of date," Seymour says, as Winston Peters attacks ACT on not having any fresh ideas. 

Seymour says benefit levels would be taken back to the levels they were at before they last went up, if he was in power. 

7:20pm - The party leaders are now talking about dealing with COVID-19. 

Seymour says he has offered constructive criticism wherever possible. He says we're an island nation with a small population with some natural advantages. He said one outbreak led to six weeks of restrictions. 

He said there has to be a trade off between privacy and public health, as he was asked about why we should want to be like Taiwan, which embraced smart-technology to stamp out the virus and track it. 

Peters said Seymour is wrong in his criticism of the COVID-19 response in New Zealand so far, and that the Government has done "exceptionally well". 

He described people saying there's nothing to fear as "cavallier" but said we "can't be too careful". 

Shaw said while it was true we were the 63rd country to get COVID-19, the response has still been strong. He said there is a concern about the Government being able to track people through their phones (a response to Seymour wanting to embrace Taiwan's approach to COVID-19). 

Peters said we "should have gone better with the app" and used masks earlier, but we still did incredibly well. 

Tamihere says ACT represents the "rich and powerful". 

He told Seymour to "behave" himself as he inerrupted. 

Ross said it was "the right thing to do" to hold a rally against lockdowns, becuase so many people have lost their businesses, even though people were told not to hold large gatherings at the time. 

"More people will lose their livelihoods," he said, if we continue to have lockdowns. 

"There's no way Mr Advance" has a chance to make it back into Parliament, Tamihere said to Ross. 

Ross is the only one of the party leaders who says he would not take a vaccine if it was available. But he said his children are vaccinated.

Seymour said he would want to know it's safe first. 

Ross said his party's view is that it should be about choice. The other parties also did not think a vaccine should be mandatory. 

7:09pm - The party leaders are talking about potential coalitions.

Shaw is talking about how the Greens want to win the Auckland Central electorate on their own merit rather than striking a deal with Labour. 

He said it's imperative that Green voters give their party vote to them too. 

Tamihere confirmed he will only work with Labour. He says he's being categorical because the Maori Party needs to win back their people's respect. 

Peters said it was "a fascinating question to ask" why NZ First is not polling high enough to get back into Parliament. 

He was faced with whether Serious Fraud Office charges against the NZ First Foundation is having an effect on the party's polling. He said it should not be trial by the media. 

"I'm not concerned about this at all - I know the facts," he said. 

Seymour is talking about how he wants to cut spending. He said ACT will push for the idea that it's not fair to saddle future generations with debt. 

Ross says Labour and National are bought and sold by Chinese Communist Party money. 

He says Advance NZ is on track to win the Maori seat of Te Tai Tokerau, which the other party leaders laughed at.

Advance NZ co-leader Billy Te Kahika is standing in Te Tai Tokerau, which is currently held by Labour's deputy leader Kelvin Davis. 

7pm - Shaw has begun the debate by talking about the importance of the Greens being in Parliament to work with Labour to make sure climate change is a key priority. 

Tamihere said unlike the other parties, all it is seeking is candidate votes in the Maori electorates, which are currently all held by Labour MPs. 

Peters said for years NZ First has defended Kiwis from "extremes", and he says common sense in Government is "more important than ever", hence why they should give his party their vote to hold the balance. 

Seymour said the consequences of COVID-19 have been "unimaginable" for Kiwis and New Zealand needs to become smarter about how we deal with it. He also says we need to be more "honest" about debt. 

Ross said Parliament needs a new voice. He talked about how New Zealand needs to learn to live with COVID-19. 

6:50pm - The multi-party leaders debate tonight comes as Newshub's political editor Tova O'Brien revealed that a lack of sympathy from National MPs for leader Judith Collins stems from perceived disloyalty from her. 

Newshub can reveal it stems back to April last year when Collins had a standoff with about half a dozen caucus colleagues who confronted her for failing to express support for then-leader Simon Bridges. 

Read more here

Collins hasn't ruled out ACT leader David Seymour as her Deputy Prime Minister if National and ACT were to form a Government after the election. 

Seymour will participate in tonight's debate. 

6:40pm - Labour will need the Greens to form a Government on the numbers unveiled in the new Colmar-Brunton poll. 

It shows Labout on 47 percent which would ranslate into 60 seats. You need 61 seats to form a Government in Parliament, so Labour would need the Greens' 8 seats. 

Green Party co-leader James Shaw will be part of the multi-party leader debate tonight. 

6:35pm - New Conservative leader Leighton Baker says his party does not need to rely on polls to tell them the level of support they're receiving from Kiwis. 

A new Colmar-Brunton poll shows the New Conservatives on 1 percent. The party cannot participate in the multi-party leaders debate tonight because they are polling below 3 percent and don't currently hold a seat in Parliament. 

6:30pm - ACT leader David Seymour and NZ First leader Winston Peters have made an appearance in the new TVNZ Colmar-Brunton poll as preferred Prime Minister, ahead of the multi-party leaders debate tonight. 

Seymour is on 2 percent while Peters is on 1 percent. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is way out in front on 50 percent, head of National leader Judith Collins on 23 percent. 

6:10pm - A new Colmar-Brunton poll shows ACT and the Greens would make it passed the 5 percent threshold to get back into Parliament, but NZ First would not. 

On 8 percent, ACT would get 11 seats while the Greens on 6 percent would get 8 seats. But NZ First is on 2 percent, meaning it would not get back in if the election was called today, unless it won an electorate. 

6pm - A new Colmar-Brunton poll shows Labour on 47 percent, National on 32 percent, ACT on 8 percent, Greens on 6 percent, NZ First on 2 percent, TOP on 2 percent, New Conservatives on 1 percent and Advance NZ on 1 percent. 

Read more here

4:30pm - Jami-Lee Ross, who earlier this year joined his Advance NZ party with Billy Te Kahika's NZ Public Party, is refusing to comply with a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). 

The ASA has ruled against Advance NZ ads that claim the COVID-19 death rate is comparable to the seasonal flu, but Ross - who will appear in the multi-party leaders TV debate tonight - will not comply. 

"The ASA should not be trying to interfere in election debate and the free speech of political parties," he told Newsroom

"They have no standing in regulating free speech. The evidence to back up our claims were in the advert in question at the bottom. We stand by the ads' content."

Advance NZ has built up an online following over conspiracy theories about COVID-19 being used to strip people's civil liberties, and that 5G causes cancer

Both Labour and National have ruled out working with Advance NZ.

NZ First leader Winston Peters.
NZ First leader Winston Peters. Photo credit: Newshub

4pm - NZ First leader Winston Peters said he was certain of a "surge" in support for his party, ahead of the multi-party leaders TV debate tonight. 

"There's a surge as you well know," Peters told reporters, when asked how the NZ First campaign has gone over the last week. 

As for where the surge has come from, Peters said: "Don't you worry, I can tell from enough indicators that things are going for us very, very well."

Peters said he's drawing on his experience over "many, many years" of campaigning. 

"I'd love to give you a whole lot of examples but I want you to be the expert tonight on this matter," he said. 

It comes as two people charged in connection with the NZ First Foundation over donations had their names kept secret for now by a court order. They're alleged to have deposited more than $740,000 into a NZ First Foundation account. The Serious Fraud Office confirmed last week that the pair are not NZ First MPs or staff members. 

Peters would not comment on the matter. 

He talked about how COVID-19 has changed this year's election campaign and made it difficult for political parties to cut through. 

"The campaign has been utterly surreal. We've [travelled] extensively - over 6000km around the country from coast to coast, all the way to Bluff and Kaitaia, in circumstances where we weren't allowed to campaign because of the lockdown," he said. 

"I think it harmed a lot of parties' chances. It has been preferential for some parties, without me pointing to the obvious, but for a lot of parties it's been seriously damaging to their efforts to try and build what is a campaign."

Data from the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll showed that 43 percent of people who voted for NZ First at the 2017 election have switched to Labour this time around - but Peters rejected it.  

"Do I keep having to remind you how wrong your polls were in Australia? How wrong they were in America? How wrong they were in the UK? And how wrong they've been where New Zealand First's concerned in so many elections?" 

The latest Newshub poll showed NZ First on 1.9 percent.