Grant Robertson, Nicola Willis to be the main focus of election 2023 instead of Jacinda Ardern, Christopher Luxon - commentator

Political commentator Bryce Edwards believes New Zealand's 2023 election will be more about the major parties' finance spokespeople as opposed to their respective leaders.

His comments came after the Labour Government on Wednesday extended its fuel tax cut - but only for a short period - as Finance Minister Grant Robertson looks to zero in on the cost of living crisis.

Half-price public transport was also extended for a month but Robertson promised, after that, it would be "back to basics".

With the Government under intense scrutiny over its management of the economy ahead of an expected recession next year, Dr Edwards told Newshub Late on Wednesday Labour was trying to look fiscally responsible.

"It really does signal to me that this Government is determined to show how fiscally conservative they can be," said Dr Edwards, a political scientist at Victoria University of Wellington. "It would've been a popular move to maybe extend those fuel tax exemptions a bit longer and it certainly would've been a popular move to keep public transport half-price.

"We now know that next year's election is going to be totally fought on the economy; on [the] cost of living, inflation - all those things that hurt people in the back pocket.

"This election isn't going to be so much, I think, fought between Jacinda Ardern and Christopher Luxon as between Grant Robertson as the Finance Minister and Nicola Willis [as National's Finance spokesperson]."

In September, Ipsos polling showed New Zealanders (44 percent) perceived the National Party as most capable of managing the economy while Labour was trusted with the economy by 28 percent of respondents. 

In addition to those Ipsos results, polling last week showed right-bloc parties National and ACT would be able to form a Government with 64 seats (61 needed to govern) while the left-wing Labour, Green and Māori parties had 56. 

An earlier Newshub-Reid Research poll in November saw Labour record its lowest result since Ardern became the leader in 2017 (32.3 percent v Natonal's 40 percent).