Fast and feisty final leaders debate

A fast and fiery final leaders debate before Saturday's election traversed everything from spying to steak versus lamb chops.

And in the TV ONE debate both National Party leader John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe tried to convince voters their coalition combination would be the simplest and most stable.

They both also wanted to distance themselves as far away from Kim Dotcom as possible.

It was a feisty affair with the two leaders skipping from topic to topic in rapid succession. They went from spying, to numbers to coalition possibilities within five minutes.

Asked why he doesn't ring America about them spying on Kiwis, Mr Key said he doesn't need to because he doesn't think they are.

Still dogged by the claims made at Kim Dotcom's "Moment of Truth" on Monday night, Mr Key repeated there's no mass surveillance by the GCSB on New Zealanders. But he admitted the US "may under their own laws legitimately gather some information about New Zealanders".

The line of the night came from Mr Key talking about coalition options and comparing National to steak, and the Conservatives to lamb chops.

"If you want steak for dinner tonight, go and buy steak. If you want a National Government, party vote National."

"If you want to have steak for dinner, buy streak. Don't buy a lamb chop."

But Mr Cunliffe said National was dependent on "a rag-tag of right-wing weirdos".

"He's got a couple of extreme right-wing parties some people would call weirdos."

Mr Key said Labour has to have the Internet Party and can't govern without it. But Mr Cunliffe maintained he could govern with New Zealand First and the Greens and wouldn't need the Internet Party.

Mr Key told Mr Cunliffe: "You're with Dotcom." Mr Cunliffe hit back: "No I'm not." But Mr Key insisted: "Yes you are."

Mr Key said he thinks National will get around 47% of the vote on Saturday, while Mr Cunliffe thought the centre left will get around 50%.

The commentators

Right-leaning commentator Matthew Hooton said Mr Cunliffe would have needed a "real blinder" to have won the debate.

Former Labour Party president Mike Williams said it was definitely "no no" for leaders to touch each other during the debate as Key did to Cunliffe at one stage in the debate.

"He was under stress&it's been a long, hard campaign for John Key," Williams said.

Dr Jennifer Lees-Marshment, an academic in political marketing at Auckland University, said Mr Key didn't talk about what National will do going forward, saying: "Voters always want to see something new."

Asked to pick a winner over the four leaders debates of the campaign, Mr Williams went with Mr Cunliffe "by a small margin".

Dr Lees-Marshment said "the same", while Mr Hooton picked Mr Key as the winner because he caught out Mr Cunliffe on capital gains tax in the Christchurch debate.

Key compares Labour to a lamb chop, while Cunliffe says Kiwis can't even afford mince. Source: 1 NEWS


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