Election 2023: Council of Trade Unions rolls out attack ads targeting Christopher Luxon, National hits back

"Out of touch" and "too much risk" is how National leader Christopher Luxon is being described in a series of attack ads which were rolled out on Monday.  

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is behind the ads which feature a black and white picture of Luxon with "out of touch" and "too much risk" written in capital letters below him.   

But National has hit back at the ads, calling them "nasty".  

NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff said the attack ads are "focused on why a National-led government will leave working people worse off".  

"Christopher Luxon and National will take New Zealand backwards and working people will be the first to feel the pain," Wagstaff said.  

"The buck stops with Christopher Luxon. He's the leader, these are his policies. People need to take notice of that."    

He said the ads are evidence based and set out why Luxon and National are "out of touch with what matters to the lives of working people - and out of touch with the challenges New Zealand faces".  

Wagstaff also referenced data from a Newshub-Reid Research poll in May which found 47 percent of New Zealanders thought Luxon was out of touch compared with 35.6 percent who think Labour leader Chris Hipkins is.  

Wagstaff hit out at National's tax policy released last week. The policy includes changing income tax brackets to compensate for inflation, introducing National's Family Boost childcare tax credit, and increasing Working for Families tax credits. This would come in from July 1, 2024.  

The party also promised to fully restore interest deductibility for rental properties, bring the bright line test back to two years from the current 10 years, not go ahead with the Government's proposed fuel tax hikes over the next three years and remove the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax, if it's elected.  

The tax policy revealed the party is proposing to cancel a Government public transport programme which would effectively double fares for some people.  

The policy didn't go down well with Wagstaff who accused the party of proposing "savage cuts to public services" at the expense of low-income earners.  

"Anyone who thinks the answer is a $10 per week tax cut for someone on the minimum wage, and savage cuts to public services, has to be seriously out of touch," he said.  

A Council of Trade Unions attack ad about National leader Christopher Luxon.
A Council of Trade Unions attack ad about National leader Christopher Luxon. Photo credit: Newshub

Wagstaff highlighted specific issues with the party's policy including abolishing the Fair Pay Agreements, reinstating 90-day trial periods, restraining minimum wage rises, reintroducing tax breaks for landlords, increasing the price of public transport, tying welfare payments to inflation, gutting public services and axing the Climate Emergency Response Fund.  

"National's plan under Christopher Luxon is short-sighted, it is not good economic management," said Wagstaff.  

"October's election is the most significant election for working people in a generation. It's essential that going into this election, people understand what is at risk for not just working people, but all New Zealanders."    

National has hit back at the ad with campaign chair Chris Bishop calling it "nasty".  

Bishop also accused CTU of  campaigning on behalf of Labour. There is no evidence to suggest Labour was involved or knew about the campaign. The CTU's constitution states, "the question of affiliation to political parties is a matter for individual unions themselves to determine. The NZCTU shall not affiliate to or make financial contributions to any political party".  

But Bishop accused Hipkins of running out of ideas and taking Labour into its "most negative campaign in history".  

"The Labour-aligned Council of Trade Unions has launched nasty American-style attack ads on National to help their mate Chris Hipkins and his increasingly desperate Labour Party. 'Be kind' has truly become 'be nasty' under Chris Hipkins and his union elite buddies," Bishop said.  

"The highly-resourced CTU is able to spend almost $400,000 on these grubby attack ads and is in lockstep with Hipkins in running the most negative election campaign seen in decades.    

"Serious questions need to be asked of Chris Hipkins about how much he knew of his union mates' relentlessly negative and scurrilous campaign. It's hard to believe Labour didn't know about it when a former advisor to Grant Robertson is now a senior staffer at the CTU and an active Labour Party volunteer."    

National's campaign chair Chris Bishop.
National's campaign chair Chris Bishop called the attack ad "nasty". Photo credit: Newshub

Bishop also criticised Labour about a now retracted social media post which incorrectly claimed National-ACT coalition would reintroduce interest to student loans if elected.    

"Labour has been caught out repeatedly spreading disinformation about National's policies and it seems Hipkins will stop at nothing to cling to power," Bishop said.  

"We can take six weeks of Labour's lies and attacks, but Kiwis can't take another three years of Labour's reckless economic mismanagement.  

"Kiwis are crying out to hear how political parties will help them get ahead. But in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, Chris Hipkins has nothing to offer people but lies and negativity, helped out by big unions that are more focused on attacking National than supporting working people who are drowning in Labour's cost of living crisis.  

"National's campaign is relentlessly focused on New Zealanders and only a Party Vote for National will get our country back on track by rebuilding the economy to reduce the cost of living, with things like our Back Pocket Boost which will make families up to $250 per fortnight better off."    

Labour has been contacted for comment about Bishop’s claims.