Morning Briefing Sept 23: Collins comes out swinging after poor poll result

The gloves came off last night as Labour’s Jacinda Ardern and National’s Judith Collins met in the first leaders’ debate of the 2020 election campaign.

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins seen at the first Leaders' Debate. Source: Getty

For 90 minutes, the pair clashed over issues like Covid-19, jobs, tax and child poverty, with several tense exchanges in the mix.

Both leaders ruled out a capital gains tax next term, although they were divided on wages and border policy

Political expert Jennifer Lees-Marshment told 1 NEWS Ardern seemed to "lack passion" during the debate but added that it didn’t go all Collins’ way, saying she spoke too much about what was wrong with Labour and not enough about what National was offering.

The NZ Herald described the event as being “a fighter versus an optimist”, while Stuff maintained that Ardern lost the debate – but said Collins didn’t win it either.

You can judge for yourself here if you missed watching it last night.

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ACT big winners in poll

The latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll landed shortly before Ardern and Collins duked it out on the debate stage last night – and one of the minor parties proved the biggest winner this time around.

Labour saw a decrease in support, dropping five points to 48 per cent, while National also dipped slightly to 31 per cent.

However, the ACT party has continued its momentum and now sits at 7 per cent, which would translate to nine seats in Parliament.

The Green Party has also climbed slightly to 6 per cent.

Jacinda Ardern still topped the preferred Prime Minister rankings on 54 per cent, while Judith Collins dropped two points to 18 per cent. 

1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch McKay says people still seem to feel positive about Labour and Jacinda Ardern despite the 5 percent drop in support.

However, she says ACT is the big winner, with the party being seen as an alternative for people unhappy with the Government. 

When asked about the poll results at last night’s debate, Collins blamed the second Covid-19 lockdown.

She says it stopped election campaign momentum and made people want to stay with the status quo.

But, she says, “I never give up. I’m a fighter.”

1 NEWS will now be polling every week in the lead-up to next month’s election.

Finance spokespeople clash

ACT leader David Seymour was clearly on a high following his party’s strong showing in last night’s poll as he took part in a finance debate hosted by the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce.

Seymour received loud cheers as he was introduced at the event and quipped that his opponents should “get used to it”.

RNZ reports that while Queenstown might be National territory, their party’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith failed to win the crowd over at the debate last night.

He and Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson clashed over National’s alternative budget, which Goldsmith says is a credible plan despite some miscalculations to the tune of billions of dollars.

Robertson countered by saying Goldsmith has a document that “literally doesn’t add up”.

Historical Covid cases probed

While New Zealand recorded zero new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield did reveal a “weak positive test” in a person who shared a flight with a man who tested positive for the virus at the weekend.

The Ministry of Health believes the “weak positive” result stems from an old infection during the first lockdown and is looking at how to manage and report such cases. 

And as Auckland prepares to drop alert levels tonight, some experts are calling for the city to eventually move to a special Level 1.5.

However, Dr Bloomfield said we are “done with the .5s” for now but did add Level 1 would look a little different this time around.

Meanwhile, National once again focused on how the country’s managed isolation facilities are run, releasing a border policy yesterday that would allow more people into New Zealand and could see them staying with private providers.

Labour’s Megan Woods said National have always been “high risk takers with our border”, but said she’s open to loosening restrictions on people coming from low-risk countries when the time is right.

Survivor describes years of abuse

A survivor of abuse in state care has described the painful and damaging electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) that was forced on her for 12 years, simply because she was gay.

Sixty-eight-year-old Joan Bellingham is one of the many survivors this week sharing her experience at a public hearing.

She says she has permanent scarring to her scalp from the more than 200 ECT sessions she suffered.

Bellingham says it's been a long road to get recognition and compensation for her experiences – but she says the Royal Commission investigating abuse in state care shows that “there is want for change”.

Powerful precedent set

The Government has decided not to challenge a landmark court decision against earthquake insurer Southern Response that could wind up costing taxpayers $700 million.

It means the owners of a quake-damaged house in Christchurch, Karl and Alison Dodds, will receive the full cost of repairs to their home – potentially opening the way for thousands of others to get the same. 

Other news of note this morning:  

- Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency say they’ve successfully completed an overnight repair to temporarily fix the damaged strut on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

- Boris Johnson says the UK has reached "a perilous turning point" in the fight against Covid-19 and has set out new restrictions that could last up to six months.

- The Government has announced several immigration policy changes to help fill key labour shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic.

- Boy racers are terrorising residents in a quake-damaged suburb in Christchurch.

- And Air New Zealand has ramped up its domestic schedule to nearly 90 per cent of pre-Covid levels ahead of the school holidays next week.

And finally...

It looks like Ellen DeGeneres might have to go back to the drawing board after an apology about toxic workplace allegations at her show fell flat yesterday.

The daytime talk show host used the opening monologue of her new season to address the issues and talked about “starting a new chapter”.

But with dry quips about her “super terrific” summer amid the many allegations, DeGeneres’ former employees say the apology has more than missed the mark.