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Recap: Collins, Ardern give final pitch to voters in TVNZ's leaders' debate

Recap TVNZ’s final leaders’ debate tonight as Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and National leader Judith Collins make their pitch to voters two days from the election. 

TVNZ's Final Leaders' Debate. Source: 1 NEWS

The debate kicked off at 7pm, after the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll results released at 6pm. Watch a replay of the debate on our website

We’ll also be livestreaming on 1 NEWS' Facebook page, on Twitter and on YouTube

8:30pm: We're signing off for the night. Thanks for joining us.

Check the links above to watch the debate, or below for a recap.

TVNZ 1 will be hosting an election special on Saturday night from 7pm. Keep across the results there or here on the 1 NEWS website.

8:25pm: A quieter night on Twitter than previous debates.

Here's Tim Murphy again: "Nice, unscripted and different interchange there when both leaders were asked to say something to the other that they’ve not had the chance to say. Both delivered."

8:21pm: Collins says she's a strong leader, and that'll be needed if National ends up in opposition.

"I'm the best person for the job."

Collins is then challenged on her choice to reveal internal polling regarding Bridges. She says she was asked a question on polling, and she just responded. 

"She seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable person," Collins says of Ardern, but says she hasn't had a successful record of delivery.

8:12pm: Ardern says Collins and her have undertaken a "robust" campaign.

She says she doesn't get many opportunities to get to know Collins, so can't really say if she likes or dislikes her.

Ardern also says she doesn't have a life outside of politics, and hasn't thought too much about what she'll do beyond it because it takes away from her focus on the present. She confirms she'll step down as Labour leader if she loses the election.

8:10pm: Ardern is responsing to Collins' comments that she'll stay on as leader even if she loses.

"Having been around politics for a long time, that one of the consequences of not being successful in a election often is the need to move on."

She says tonight gave her a chance to be "crystal clear" on what Labour would bring if it was in Government.

8:00pm: The leaders are making their way out of the studio to face the media.

7:59pm: Closing statements

"Every vote for Labour is delivering strong and stable Government, and that's what we need right now," Ardern says.

She says voting for Labour means voting for economic recovery and "getting more done faster".

Labour will invest in people and support exporters and small businesses, all the while working towards becoming carbon neutral, Ardern says.

Collins says it's important to party vote National to get a National-led Government that will pay down debt and grow the economy for future generations. 

"We need a party that understands business and getting people into work," she says.

She says she can make decisive decisions about the economy as a leader.

7:57pm: Goals outside of politics

Collins says she wants to write another book. The audience laughs.

"I want politics to change," Ardern says. She wants New Zealanders to see themselves in Parliament, and think of it not just as a place for "mud-slinging".

Collins says there needs to be a bit of entertainment in politics, and it's been the most "thrilling" career she's had.

7:55pm: Mutch McKay asks: What's one thing you'd like to say to each other? The audience laughs.

Ardern thanked Collins for her speech after March 15.

“In the House she gave an incredibly sincere, authentic speech about the need for us to move on gun law reform.

"I found it particularly powerful."

Collins says anyone taking on the job of Prime Minister needs to put in their heart and soul, and Ardern has done that.

7:54pm: Collins says she misses having dinner at home with her family while on the campaign trail.

"Politics, what we give to the job ... you need that stamina. None of us are here for a long, long time. So, we have to give our all for the time we are here," Ardern says.

She says there are some exceptions, like Peters.

"We espectially love the debates," Ardern says, laughing. Collins agrees, saying she's enjoyed the debates.

7:53pm: More women in leadership?

Collins says people needed to stand for leadership based on merit.

Ardern says Parliament should be more representative of the population so it makes decisions that reflect what Kiwis need.

7:51pm: Ardern says she'll stay on as Prime Minister for the next three years, if re-elected. 

She won't stay on as Labour's leader if she loses the election.

Collins says she's doing "a very good job" being National's leader, and she'll stay on as leader if she loses the election.

Responding to the topic of the recent leaks from inside her party, she says: "That's life in opposition."

7:46pm: Immigration

The leaders are asked about immigration numbers once borders re-open.

Collins says the country should only accept numbers "we can cope with". 

Ardern won't give a number, but says immigration can't be relied on to drive growth. She says consideration also needs to be given for refugees.

Both say more houses are needed.

7:44pm: Climate change

Ardern says New Zealand trades on its green brand, so changes needed to be made to move towards clean technology.

"Let's look at it as an opportunity."

The leaders are asked about genetic engineering technology, which the Greens oppose.

Collins says a conversation needed to be had about it. Ardern agrees.

7:43pm: Winston Peters 

Ardern says she can work with Peters again if voters end up voting that way.

Collins won't work with Peters, sticking to her party's months-long-held position.

7:39pm: Tax

Ardern gives a firm and quick "no" to implementing the Greens' wealth tax if Labour forms a coalition with the party.

“I have made my view absolutely clear. New Zealanders deserve absolutely certainty on tax policy. I have given my word here.”

She calls any claims of a wealth tax is "desperate".

Collins says Ardern would implement the wealth tax “if she gets a chance”, pointing to KiwiBuild and light rail as “broken promises”.

Ardern says she's never claimed National would implement ACT's tax policies if National needed the party to form a Government.

Read the full exchange here

7:31pm: Allowing partners to re-enter NZ amid Covid-19 border restrictions

Collins says it needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. 

Ardern says she's progressively moved to widen the categories of people allowed to come in to the country. 

7:29pm: Religion

Collins says her religion plays a part in how she leads, in response to a viewer's question.

"I try to be the best I possibly can," she says.

She calls herself a "liberal Anglican".

Ardern makes reference to her Mormon upbringing. She says she is now agnostic but respects others' religion.

7:27pm: Filling fruit-picker worker shortages

Ardern says Kiwi job-seekers need to be prioritised, and they're working with industry to make sure produce doesn't go to waste.

She says she's prepared to make exceptions for people for people coming in from the Pacific to pick fruit. She says people needed to look at the reasons behind why Kiwis weren't keen on the jobs, for example, changing shift times.

Collins says bringing in RSE workers is important for New Zealand to take care of its Pacific neighbours.

7:20pm: Māori-for-Māori solutions?

Ardern says Whānau Ora is working to prevent more uplifts of children from their parents. She says initiatives like these would help turn around "devastating" statistics for Māori.

Collins says it's important to address issues like intergenerational poverty and welfare dependency. 

She says she's not comfortable with a "different justice system" for Māori, but she's comfortable with Rangatahi Courts.

Ardern says Māori perspectives were needed at decision-making tables, and a "partnership approach" was needed. 

7:17pm: Housing - would any leaders introduce policies to bring down house prices?

Collins says: "I won't say that we'll bring down the price of housing."

But, she says National would add housing supply and get houses built cheaper. With more supply, prices will go down, she says.

Collins says she doesn't want people to lose money from falling house prices.

She re-iterates her promise to reform the RMA. She says it's about increasing housing supply.

Ardern says, for many people, they rely on housing for financial security.

She also wants more affordable housing.

First-home buyers now make up 25 per cent of the market, Ardern says.

She points to Labour's progressive home ownership scheme.

7:15pm: Collins says "we would love to do that too, actually", talking about Labour's goal of halving child poverty rates by 2030.

She says it's about giving people work.

"What really matters is whether or not a child is getting fed, whether or not a chlid is getting to the doctor when they need to, whether or not the child has shoes on their feet. That's what matters and that's material hardship," Collins says.

Ardern says National isn't taking concrete steps to improve child poverty.

Collins points to her first 1000 days policy which gives $3000 for all expecting parents. It will be means-tested. 

7:13pm: Poverty

Ardern is asked about her promise to halve child poverty by 2030. Mutch McKay says the Child Poverty Action Group has told 1 NEWS the $14 billion left over from the Covid recovery fund could be used to take quicker action.

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Both Labour’s and National’s leaders think they’re best placed to end the issue in New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

Ardern says the $14 billion needed to be available in case of a resurgence of Covid-19, and to help with the recovery after the pandemic.

She says her Government has been providing school lunches and has been lifting benefit and minimum wages, but there's more to do.

Collins points to the material hardship measure, which has gotten worse for child poverty.

"If you talk to the food banks they will tell you things have got worse, they haven't got better. So when you're talking about transformational change, it has just got worse," Collins said.

Ardern rejected Collins' comments, and says there are nine measures when assessing child poverty, and her Government has improved seven.

"I’m not denying there is more to do," she says.

AAP fact-checked Ardern's child poverty record late last month. 

7:06pm: Collins says two ticks blue is what is best for her party, rather than voters splitting their vote.

Ardern says Labour is focused on New Zealand's issues, rather than on itself.

Collins says she hopes people don't have "buyer's remorse" by voting early. 

"People have made up their mind," Ardern says of the record early voting numbers.

More than 1.5 million people have headed to the polling booths now.

7:03pm: Ardern says she sees no need for a deal in Auckland Central with the Greens because it is polling strongly enough on its own. She says it's important for MPs to get the mandate to represent their community by winning their electorates.

Collins says despite tonight's poll, there are still undecided voters who may vote for National. 

She's asked whether it might have been better to stick with Simon Bridges as leader. 

But Collins says the caucus' views "was really clear" when they chose to oust Bridges for Todd Muller, and then elected her as leader.

She revealed internal polling at the time showed Bridges in the mid-20s. 

7:02pm: Leaders' responses to tonight's poll

Moderator Jessica Mutch McKay asks Ardern if she promises her next government will be "transformational", as she's promised to be before.

Ardern says real and lasting change needs consensus-buildling. 

"I stand by my record," Ardern says, pointing to her work in child poverty.

read more
AAP election fact check: Can Jacinda Ardern claim success on child poverty trends?

7:00pm: We're live! Follow the links right at the top of the page to watch the debate.

6:50pm: Still unsure how you'll vote?

With the election campaign coming to an end, take this opportunity to participate in Vote Compass, a survey tool which lets you see how your views match up with party policies - go to tvnz.co.nz/VoteCompass

6:40pm: Twenty minutes to go now. We've got a live audience tonight!

Here's University of Auckland Associate Professor in political science Dr Jennifer Lees-Marshment:

6:30pm: We're a half an hour away from starting! 

In other political news today:

Advance New Zealand is claiming "election interference" after Facebook took down the party's page. But, Facebook told 1 NEWS the page was taken down after "repeatedly breaching our misinformation policies".

The gap is tightening for both the cannabis and euthanasia referendum, according to a new 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll.

Meanwhile, Ardern is praising Peters' "reservoir of knowledge" and refuses to rule him out of returning to Parliament.

And Collins is joking she "won't get physical" tonight in the debate.

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The National Party leader spoke with media hours before the debate, two days out from the election. Source: 1 NEWS

6:25pm: Stuff's chief political reporter Henry Cooke with his take on tonight's results:

Co-editor of Newsroom Tim Murphy's take:

6:08pm: Analysis from 1 NEWS political reporter Maiki Sherman now.

It's not game over for NZ First leader Winston Peters yet with his "minor comeback", she says.

Sherman says minor parties the Greens and ACT were the winners of tonight's poll.

Labour will be happy with tonight's result, but National has failed to close the gap. Some National MPs will be nervously calculating whether they'll be back after the election, she says.

6:05pm: Some reaction now after tonight's poll.

Ardern said she was “really pleased with the steady support Labour’s seeing”.

1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll, October 15, approval ratings. Source: 1 NEWS

On the Greens’ rise, Ardern said she tried “not to read too much into those numbers of the minor parties”.

Green co-leader Marama Davidson said they were “encouraged” by the result.

“It speaks to people understanding our plans and our vision,” Davidson said.

Collins said: “The only poll that matters is the one on election night. But people have been saying to me, ‘I want to help National, which way should I vote?’ Easy – just two ticks blue.”

Approval ratings, October 15 – 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll. Source: 1 NEWS

ACT leader David Seymour said he'll be campaigning hard until election day. 

6:01pm: Labour is sitting at 46%, down one point from last week. National has also dropped one point and is at 31%.

Labour is two seats short of governing alone.  

Read the full story here.

October 15 – 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll. Source: 1 NEWS

6:00pm: Here are the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll results, two days out from the election.

October 15 – 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll. Source: 1 NEWS

5:50pm: We’re expecting the last 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll of this year’s election campaign in 10 minutes.

In the last poll on October 8, Labour was at 47%, while National was at 32%.

Last week’s poll results showed Labour is short one seat to have a majority in Parliament.

ACT polled at 8%, the Greens at 6% and NZ First at 2%.

New Conservative and Advance NZ were both at 1%. The Māori Party dropped down to 0.2% support.

5:30pm: Welcome to tonight’s live updates for TVNZ’s Final Leaders’ Debate for the 2020 election campaign. 

As the election campaign enters its final 48 hours, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and National leader Judith Collins will be facing off tonight to try and convince voters who haven’t headed to the polling booths yet why they should be leading the next government.

The debate kicks off at 7pm, with the final 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll released an hour before on 1 NEWS at Six. 

Background

Labour and National’s leaders will face off in TVNZ's final leaders’ debate at 7pm after the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll results are revealed at 6pm on TVNZ 1. 

The Electoral Commission has reported record numbers of advance voting, now totalling more than 1.5 million. 

But, according to last week’s 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll, 13 per cent of respondents were still on the fence or refused to say who they were voting for.

The hour-long debate will be moderated by 1 NEWS’ political editor Jessica Mutch McKay.