Election 2023: Campaign slogan battle between Labour and National begins

National's pledging to have potholes fixed within 24 hours if it wins this year's election. 

On Sunday, it launched a half-billion-dollar pothole policy, while just down the road, Labour was appealing to hearts and minds by unveiling its new campaign slogan. 

Labour leader Chris Hipkins came face to face with a rather large new friend - his first billboard - complete with a new campaign cry of "In it for you".

"I'm in it for them and that's what our campaign is going to be all about," he told media.

It's out with "Let's do this" and in with the new.

"I think a campaign slogan's got to be authentic and I believe that this one is," Hipkins said.

Slogan season has officially started. Over at National, leader Christopher Luxon said his party's slogan will be "Get our country back on track".

Though the billboards there are rolling out with much less fanfare.

"I don't think New Zealand needs slogans. I think what New Zealand needs is real substantive answers to its challenges and problems," Luxon said.

Although Hipkins didn't agree with that.

"That's a little bit ironic given so far all we've heard from the National Party is slogans," he said.

Luxon retorted: "They can announce slogans, this is our 26th policy announcement."

Up the holey road, National rolled out another roading policy, this time on potholes.

"Fixing the roads is the number one priority," said National's transport spokesperson Simeon Brown.

National is pledging to:

  • Create a $500m fund for state highway and local roading repairs
  • Order NZTA to double their efforts in roading renewals
  • And instruct them to deal to pothole repairs within 24 hours - half the current 48-hour response time.

"National's going to focus on fixing and enhancing our roading network. It's an investment in our future," Luxon said.

Although Hipkins said the Government has already been investing in New Zealand's roads.

"The Government has increased the spending on road maintenance by about 54 percent after it was effectively frozen by the last National Government. So we are catching up on road maintenance, and that includes potholes," he said.

Road safety campaigner Geoff Upson hates potholes.

"It's sort of got to that point in time where it's been angry and now it's just sort of a joke," he said.

"We might use up that $500 million very quickly. That's my only concern."

The trucking industry is backing National's plan, because potholes are not just annoying, they contribute to the cost of living crisis.

"When they take twice as long to deliver, then we all end up paying more for the cost of goods at the supermarket," said Justin Tighe-Umbers, National Road Carriers Association CEO.

They want back to basics.

"We're failing at the fundamentals. We just need to get the road network repaired, then we can work on the other priorities," Tighe-Umbers added.

Other priorities like the Road to Zero safety campaign, speed limit reductions, and the installation of speed bumps would all be scrapped under National's plan to pay for its pothole promise.

"Those minor improvements and slowing people down is actually a lower priority than actually fixing our roads to make sure they're safe to drive in the first place," Brown said.

But Hipkins believes what National is proposing is "cut the budget for road safety". 

"What does that budget pay for? It pays for things like median barriers and it pays for over 1000 police on the beat," Hipkins said.

Buckle up for a bumpy road to the election - potholes or not.