Election 2023: Big talk of big cuts on campaign trail ahead of first debate

There was plenty of talk of cuts on the election campaign on Tuesday.

Labour's new attack ad targets National and ACT's proposed cuts to public services, while National launched its promise to cut red tape. 

Then there was the Greens, whose co-leader was cutting some shapes with school kids. 

Marama Davidson was also dishing out some school lunches.

"We would continue and expand the free school lunches programme," she announced.

They want a wealth tax introduced to pay for it - because current funding runs out next December.

It's a popular policy among schools and parents, though the kids have some concerns. They said the lunches should have more flavour and that some chicken isn't cooked enough in the burgers.

"As a mother of six children and two grandchildren I know how hard it is to please everyone," said Davidson. 

The current scheme feeds 230,000 kids. The Greens want that to increase to 365,000 school kids. 

And it seems Labour's on board too.

"We'll set out our plans but we are very proud of the lunch-in-schools policy," said leader Chris Hipkins.

But Labour wasn't focussed on lunches on Tuesday, instead releasing its latest attack ad on ACT and National's policies. It targets public transport, free prescriptions, raising the retirement age and public sector cuts.

The Nats wanted to talk about a different kind of cut.

"Over the last six years, I think we have become a country of bureaucrats in New Zealand," said leader Christopher Luxon. "We've lost so much of our can-do spirit. We've got ourselves tied up in red tape."

The party released a list of 25 areas they promise to overhaul, with Luxon saying National want "really smart regulation". 

Labour is warning that didn't turn out too well in the 90s.

"That has caused decades of pain for homeowners, in particular, because of the leaky building crisis," said Hipkins.

The misinformation crisis has also returned to headlines with Labour MP Michael Wood claiming National would scrap the winter energy payment for pensioners, when they wouldn't.

"On that particular post, I've spoken to Michael Wood today and told him to correct it."

The Nats pounced on it, launching its own website calling out Labour.

"It's just making sure we've got a place where we can make sure everyone gets straight knowledge," said Luxon.

But Hipkins said: "National's so-called misinformation website starts with a piece of their own misinformation which is their tax plan stacks up and it's beyond question."

Luxon was also accused of misinformation for calling Hipkins a champion university debater, when he's not. 

"He's not a champion university debater? He didn't do debating at university? Oh, my goodness, OK, alright," Luxon said.

That's because the first televised campaign debate is on Tuesday night.

Hipkins spent the day opening a new building at the University of Auckland, where one word caught our attention. He kept mentioning "legacy". 

Asked if he was using that word to accept he might not be PM soon, Hipkins said: "Absolutely not".  

It's a job he'll be fighting to keep tonight.