Morning Briefing July 31: New poll shows National still in deep trouble

Installing Judith Collins as leader has failed to deliver National a badly needed boost with the party’s support languishing at just 32 per cent in last night’s 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll.

Judith Collins. Source: Getty

The result represents a six-point drop since last month’s poll.

Labour, meanwhile, has risen 3 points to 53 percent support.

Ms Collins did poll much higher than her immediate predecessors in the preferred Prime Minister category, with 20 per cent support. However, it’s still well below Jacinda Ardern’s rating, who remains steady at 54 per cent.

1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch McKay says the latest poll is a great result for Ms Ardern, but Ms Collins will “be really disappointed by these numbers” given support was higher under Todd Muller’s brief leadership tenure.

Once upon a time, Ms Collins set herself a performance threshold of 35 per cent in the polls.

When she made her first tilt for the National leader role back in 2018, she defined that sacking point, saying, “Once things start getting under 35 per cent, people start saying ‘can we win?’”

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ACT delivers poll surprise

Last night’s poll also delivered some interesting numbers for the minor parties.

Support for ACT has climbed again with the party sitting on 4.8 per cent support, up from 3.1 per cent in June’s poll.

Assuming it wins an electorate seat, those results would see ACT boost their number of MPs from one to six. (Their party list can be found here if you need a refresher on who would join leader David Seymour in Parliament should that scenario play out.) 

The Green Party is sitting on 5 per cent support, meaning they would just scrape back into Parliament, but coalition partner NZ First is still sitting on just 2 per cent.

NZ First’s leader, Winston Peters, was also the only politician in last night’s poll to have a majority of New Zealanders not trust him

Privacy breach 'not justified'

National’s latest poor poll result follows weeks of turmoil, including their MP Hamish Walker’s role in the leak of confidential Covid-19 patient details to media.

The findings of an inquiry into that privacy breach were released yesterday, which found there was no justification for Mr Walker and political operative Michelle Boag to leak the information.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says the leak “was a disgraceful and grubby act carried out by two National Party members for political purposes".

He did, however, concede the leak highlighted potential weakness in the Ministry of Health’s processes, something that was also noted in the inquiry. Mr Hipkins says those processes have now been tightened up.

The State Services Commission’s full report into the privacy breach can be found here

Contact tracing underway in south

Contact tracing has begun in Fiordland after it was revealed a man who tested positive for Covid-19 in South Korea went on a cruise in Milford Sound. He also travelled to Queenstown.

Testing is being done to rule out community transmission with all the man’s close contacts returning negative results so far. 

Meanwhile, another person made a brief escape from managed isolation yesterday.

A 32-year-old attempted to flee from Auckland’s Crowne Plaza on foot after tailing a staff member out of the hotel.

Officials say he only made it 100 metres before being caught by Defence Force staff and police. 

Australia’s Covid crisis deepens

Any hopes that Victoria’s latest Covid-19 outbreak had peaked were dashed when the Australian state announced a massive spike in new cases yesterday.

The 723 cases were more than double the previous day’s figure. The state also recorded 13 more deaths from the virus.

Masks are now becoming compulsory for everyone in the state, not just for Melbourne residents. 

Meanwhile, a coronavirus-infected teen who dodged quarantine in Queensland when returning from Melbourne has been fined.

Queensland residents are now waiting to see if there is any wider community transmission of the virus there.  

Other news of note this morning: 

Donald Trump has suggested November's US presidential election should be postponed, saying postal voting could lead to fraud.

Police say they’re confident the risk to potentially thousands of people is low after more details emerge from a major data hack

Jetstar is upping its domestic schedule for August, with the airline returning capacity to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

A homicide inquiry has been launched after the death of a man in a hit-and-run in the Christchurch suburb of Parklands.   

The Government has announced details of a planned new law giving police the power to conduct random roadside drug testing of drivers.

The owners of Auckland's $1 billion Commercial Bay mall are upbeat despite reports some shops are already doing it tough there.

Locals in the small central Otago town of Tarras are demanding answers over plans to build an international airport in their community. 

And demand for veggie seeds has skyrocketed as the prices of supermarket produce surge.

And finally...

National’s Nikki Kaye made her valedictory speech to Parliament one to remember last night as she dropped an F-bomb in the mix.

Ms Kaye was describing the moment she attempted to resign from politics following her cancer diagnosis in 2016, saying she stayed when then-Prime Minister Sir John Key told her, “You’re not f***ing going anywhere.”

The revelation drew peals of laughter in the House, including from Sir John himself, who was there watching proceedings. 

Ms Kaye is ending her political career after September’s election and says she plans to be a “hippie for a while”.