Election 2023 Newshub debate live updates: Chris Hipkins, Christopher Luxon grilled by Patrick Gower

National leader Christopher Luxon and Labour leader Chris Hipkins have faced off in Newshub's Decision 2023 Leaders Debate later on Wednesday. 

The two political leaders will go head-to-head in the debate at 7pm which is moderated by Patrick Gower, with live updates provided by Newshub throughout the night.

Afterwards, Newshub Political Editor Jenna Lynch and a panel of experts will break down the big moments and assess the leaders' performance.

At 9pm, Hipkins and Luxon will be grilled by media - Newshub will live stream those standups. 

It comes after the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll results, which showed National on 39.1 percent and Labour on 26.5 percent.

For the first time, Luxon had zoomed past Hipkins in the preferred-Prime Minister rankings. 

These live updates are now finished. 

9:03pm – The debate is now over.  

8:59pm - Hipkins has referred to himself as "the king of the gingers" in his post debate stand up. 

8:53pm – Luxon also says he had fun and enjoyed it. He called it a "freewheeling debate" and also refused to rate himself out of 10. He said he clearly made a mistake on ecstasy because of the nerves at the start but he faced up to it and corrected it.  

8:50pm – Newshub's Amelia Wade asks Hipkins whether he think he won the debate. Hipkins says it was a great debate and he really enjoyed it. He refused to rank himself out of 10.

8:45pm - Time for the post-debate commentary. Political commentator Josie Pagani says the real winner was the debate. She says it was feisty, funny and steely.  

Pagani says they both did what they needed to but Hipkins got the hits on the night but both did well. 

The Hui host Julian Wilcox said Hipkins won. He says they evened out at the end, but Hipkins had a stronger start.  

Political commentator Janet Wilson agreed and said at the start Luxon stuck to his old lines too much.  

8:29pm - Quick fire questions are up.  

What is more harmful alcohol or cannabis.  

Hipkins – alcohol  

Luxon – alcohol  

Should women get menopause leave?

Hipkins – yes. Won’t commit to introducing leave

Luxon – hasn't thought about it but open to it

Has either been victim of a cyber scam?  

Hipkins – no

Luxon – no

Is artificial intelligence a threat to humanity?

Hipkins – potentially  

Luxon – there are good and bad parts

Would you consider an AI tax to support people who lose jobs due to it?

Hipkins – not sure how to do that

Luxon – we are a long way from that

How did you celebrate Matariki?

Hipkins – I was out of the country

Luxon – had a great time at Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei

Yes or no to genetic engineering?

Hipkins – we should proceed carefully

Luxon – we should embrace it  

Are live animal exports okay?

Hipkins – No

Luxon – Only with welfare guidelines

Should we ban tourists from driving to the Milford Sound

Hipkins – No

Luxon – No

Who would make a better Foreign Affairs Minister Judith Collins or Winston Peters?

Luxon – Judith

Who would make a better Minister for Auckland Chloe Swarbrick or Michael Wood?

Hipkins – Wood

Should charities pay tax?

Hipkins – yes

Luxon – open to it

When did you last catch a bus?

Hipkins – Within the last year

Luxon – last year from Waiheke Ferry Terminal

Who is New Zealand's greatest Prime Minister?

Luxon - Are you going to say Chris Hipkins?  

Hipkins – Are you?

Luxon – You know I like you but not that much  

Hipkins – Michael Joseph Savage

Luxon – Keith Holyoake

Should feral cats be treated as pests?

Hipkins – yes

Luxon – yes

Should  people with legit vaccine injuries get compensation

Hipkins – There is already a process in place

Luxon – no

Will the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup? 

Hipkins - absolutely

Luxon – They’ve never lost under a National government

8:26pm - Gower has moved on to national security. Both leaders say we need to do everything we can to avoid it. Both leaders also say they don't want drones that could kill people.  

8:25pm - Both leaders are being asked how they would manage a potential three party coalition.  

Luxon says he will create a strong stable government and suggests Hipkins has "a fire ring circus to manage" with his potential collalition partners

"You've got your own chaos Chippy," Gower jokes.

Hipkins says Labour, Greens and Te Pati Māori have already shown they can work well together.  

8:20pm - Is Winston Peters good or bad for the country?  

Hipkins says bad. Luxon says he "doesn't know him". Gower points out he's Winston Peters "everybody knows him.  

Luxon again says he doesn't know him.

8:19pm - Hipkins thinks cannabis should be decriminalised but it's still illegal and people are being locked up. Gower asks how he can stand by and watch people being locked up for something he thinks should be decriminalised?  

Hipkins says he's listening to the public because it was voted down in the referendum.

8:16pm - Gower is now asking whether you sometimes have to abandon personal principles to succeed in politics. Both say no.

Gower is asking Luxon aboput his personal view abortion is tantamount to murder. Gower asks whether he regrets saying that? Luxon doesn't answer but says he won't change the laws.  

Luxon is asked again whether he still thinks that, Luxon again doesn't answer.

8:11pm - Gower is now asking about speed limits. Both parties will make speed limits faster but is that risking lives?

Hipkins says it depends on the roads - some are appropriate for faster speeds while others aren't.  

Luxon also says well-built roads can have faster speed limits.  

8:07pm - What about tough decisions? Gower asks whether they will tell entire communities to move if that's the best decision because of climate change?

Both leaders say yes.  

8:05pm - What kind of climate leader do they want to be remembered as?  

Hipkins says "a very progressive one".  

Luxon says "a leader that is marching our climate emissions down".

8:04pm - Gower is now asking whether it’s a teacher's job to teach gender and sexuality in schools?  

Luxon says it's both teachers and parents jobs but he's not happy with the current things that are being taught. He says there needs to be a single, age appropriate curriculum which consults parents. Hipkins agrees but says parents are already consulted.

7:59pm - Gower is now asking the leaders about how to reduce vaping in schools. Hipkins says his party will have a maximum of 600 vape stores which will be licensed and not near schools. Luxon says his policy is also 600. Hipkins interjects, "That's my policy are you adopting it?"

Gower points out National doesn't have a policy but Luxon says it's coming and he agrees on the issue so the parties should work together to fix it.  

Luxon says he's willing to look at making vaping prescription only if the measures don't work after 18 months.

7:55pm - The leaders are now discussing education. Hipkins accuses Luxon of winding education back by decades. Luxon says Hipkins lacks ambition.

Gower also asked both leaders what one half plus one quarter is? Both said three quarters. Gower pointed out only a third of 11-12 year olds could answer that currently. He asks whether that is good enough?

Both say no it isn't.

7:50pm - Hipkins has accused Luxon of being comfortable working with people who are "playing the race card".  

Hipkins has a quote from an NZ First candidate speaking about Māori.  

"Cry if you want to, we don’t care. You pushed it too far. We are the party with the cultural mandate wand courage to cut out your diseases and bury you permanently." 

Hipkins asks why Luxon wants to work with these people?  

Luxon says he doesn't want to but will to stop Labour, the Greens and Te Pati Māori. He says he thinks the quote is racist and unacceptable.

7:45pm - Luxon accuses Hipkins of being too negative. Hipkins hits back saying, "You don't like to be challenged. If you actually answered the questions I wouldn't need to challenge you so much".  

7:39pm - The leaders are now being asked about ramping – where overflowing EDs leave patients waiting in ambulances.  

Is it okay and what are you going to do about it?  

Hipkins says it's not okay and free prescriptions will help keep people out of hospital with avoidable conditions.  

Luxon says we need more nurses and doctors. He's also pledged to bring back health targets.  

7:39pm - Gower asks whether Hipkins and Luxon will lower the age of bowel cancer screening? 

Luxon says yes and he will lower it for breast cancer too. There is applause from the audience.  

Hipkins says he will "absolutely" bring the age down. More applause.  

Luxon and Hipkins both agree to match the age of screening Australia currently has which is 5o years old or 45 if you ask.

7:36pm - Gower is asks Hipkins whether Te Whatu Ora has fixed the country's broken health system?  

Hipkins says it;'s a work in progress while Luxon says it's still broken and has gone backwards under Labour. Hipkins interjects, "There was a global pandemic".

7:32pm - Gower is now asking whether either party will cut petrol taxes with it tipped to cost $3.50 by Christmas. Luxon says he won't increase the fuel excise in his first term and remove the Auckland regional fuel tax.  

7:29pm - Gower is now asking Luxon whether he will resign if his contentious foreign buyers tax doesn't raise the money he says it will?  

He says he will resign if he doesn’t deliver tax relief.  

Gower again asks whether he will resign if the tax isn't as lucatrive as planned? Luxon says he's committed to delivering tax relief. 

7:27pm - Hipkins is now being questioned over whether he can guarantee food prices will go down because of removing GST.

He says prices fluctuate seasonally. Gower again questions whether he can guarantee an orange that is currently $1 will be 85 cents when his policy comes into place? He can't.

7:24pm - The topic is now cost of living. Infometrics data shows total household costs are up about $240 a week – higher for those with a mortgage. Which one is going to ease the pain sooner?  

Luxon says National is because they know how to run an economy and reduce inflation.

He hit out at Labour saying spending has increased 80 percent but there hasn't been an 80 percent improvement in health, education, roads, infrastructure or anything in this country.  

Hipkins is defending his government's spending saying some of that is going to superannuants, health and education.  

Gower reiterates who is going to ease the pain quicker? Hipkins says he is focused on getting inflation under control.

7:17pm - Moving on to drug crime. Gower asks whether someone taking MDMA at a festival is a criminal?

Luxon says the current settings are right. Gower again asks are they criminals? Luxon says no but won't commit to changing crimes act. Gower asks why if they're not criminals? Luxon backtracks and says yes actually they are criminals. There are boos from the crowd at that. 

Hipkins says they are technically criminals under the law and he's always opening to reviewing the laws. Says it needs to be treated like a health issue.  

Gower asks whether either have done MDMA. Both Luxon and Hipkins says no.  

7:14pm - The leaders are now discussing gang crime. Luxon says he wants to remove gang patches but Gower and Hipkins questioned how he would actually do that.  

Gower asked if there was a big gang funeral in a small town would Luxon expect officers to go in and force them to remove their patches? Luxon says yes.

7:11pm - Gower has introduced a shopkeeper named Preeti who is struggling with crime at her shop. He asks the leaders what one policy they would introduce to deal with "lawlessness".  

Hipkins says Labour has a programme to identify young offenders and turn their lives around. He said it's key to deal with the dysfunction in their lives so they don't reoffend. He says the programme has a 70 to 8- percent success rate.  

Luxon says it doesn't work and retail crime is up 100 percent. He says the country needs serious consequences for young offenders.

7:07pm - The leaders have been given a scenario – It's midday at the local dairy and a young shoplifter runs away with stolen stuff. What would you do?

Hipkins says if he could stop them safely, he would but said people need to keep themselves out of harm's way. Gower questioned whether he would stop them and Hipkins said it would depend on the circumstances.  

Luxon says he would stop them "safely and pointed to "immense frustration" people are feeling because "crime is would of control".  

"I would do so safely. I don't want to encourage people to take action into their own hands. But people are feeling frustrated about it," Luxon said.

7:04pm - Is crime out of control? Luxon says it "absolutely is" and New Zealanders feel less safe in their homes.  

Hipkins says "crime is always a challenge" but better policing is the solution. Gower pushes on whether it's out of control, he says it's a "challenge".  

7:02pm – The debate is starting. Host Patrick Gower is running through the agenda and welcoming the political leaders.  

6:47pm – The audience is gathering for tonight's debate.  

Election 2023 Newshub debate live updates: Chris Hipkins, Christopher Luxon grilled by Patrick Gower
Photo credit: Newshub
The latest Newshub Reid Research Poll.
The latest Newshub Reid Research Poll.

6:38pm - Newshub's latest poll also asked: "Who do you think better understands the struggles average Kiwis are facing?" 

The results show 41.2 percent said Labour's Chris Hipkins, 29.3 percent said National's Christopher Luxon and 23 percent said neither.

Read the full story here.

6:36pm - Labour has released a fiscal plan outlining how it's going to pay for all its election promises. 

National still hasn't released its workings - leading to accusations from Labour it can't be trusted on its numbers. 

But Newshub can reveal who Kiwis would trust more as Finance Minister.

In our latest Newshub Reid Research poll we asked, who do you trust more as a potential Finance Minister?  

The results show 34.8 percent said Labour's Grant Robertson, but more people back blue, with 35.1 per cent trusting Nicola Willis. 

There are still a lot of Kiwis who say neither or don't know - about 30 percent combined.  

Read the full story here.  

6:15pm - Host Patrick Gower says he's "really nervous" ahead of the debate and viewers should "expect the unexpected".  

Gower says the debate will cover all the big issues including health, crime, cost of living and climate.  

The debate will be livestreamed on Three, ThreeNow and Newshub.co.nz.

6:11pm - Newshub political reporter Amelia Wade says National is under intense pressure to get its financial policy right when its released this Friday.  

The party has been under intense scrutiny over how it plans to pay for its promised tax cuts. Wade says the party has to get it right when it's released this week.  

6:08pm – The latest 1News poll shows National has dropped 1 percent to 36 percent, while its likely collation partner ACT is steady on 12 percent and NZ First is up 1 percent to 6 percent.  

Labour meanwhile was also down 1 percent to 26 percent and its likely coalition partner the Greens are up 1 percent to 13 percent.

Te Pāti Māori meanwhile was down 1 percent to 2 percent.  

5:51pm – A crowd of National supporters with placards are gathering outside the debate venue. 

4:36pm - Labour and National are both dealing with kerfuffles today. Labour has been forced to take down social media posts after Google got in touch about the use of its branding. While a National MP is facing criticism for his comments about what $4.15 would buy people.  

4:24pm – The Newshub Leaders Debate will start at 7pm. It will be livestreamed on Three, ThreeNow and Newshub.co.nz.