TL;DR: National/ACT could govern alone after October 14 if last night’s 1News/Kantar poll was replicated in the election, although Christopher Luxon remains less popular than Chris Hipkins, who is honing in on trust as a weakness for National.
Elsewhere in the news in our political economy this morning
Wayne Brown looks set to lose his bid to sell Auckland’s airport shares;
Nicola Willis is being forced to bring forward the release date for National’s election policy costings;
Tower is putting up car and home insurance premiums based on local flood, slip and coastal inundation risks;
Fitch is warning it may downgrade America’s AAA credit rating because of its debt ceiling impasse threatening financial markets and banking systems; and,
The IEA says solar investment will surpass oil investment for the first time this year.
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National and ACT pull marginally ahead
1News published its latest Kantar political poll results last night, showing National and ACT could govern alone after the Labour/Green bloc fell five points and the National/ACT bloc rose three points. The poll was taken in the aftermath of Budget 2023 and after a couple of weeks’ news noise dominated by the defection of Labour Minister Meka Whaitiri to Te Pati Maori, the resignation of Green MP Elizabeth Kerekere and fears Budget 2023 would push up mortgage rates. Green support fell four points and Labour fell one, while National rose three points and ACT was unchanged.
Long story short? National/ACT would have 62 seats in a 120 seat Parliament if these results were replicated in the October 14 election, but MMP elections are usually this tight and too flighty in the middle to be sure about a result. Micro-movements around the median and the size of Te Pāti Māori’s caucus will decide. Assigning meaning or reasons to this poll’s micro-movements this far out is not useful, other than to say the poll was taken after certain events and to leave others to ascribe causality.
Luxon closes his popularity deficit. A bit.
The 1News/Kantar poll also found Natonal Leader Christopher Luxon still trailed Labour PM Chris Hipkins as preferred PM, but the gap closed to seven points from 10 points a month ago.
So what? Luxon still has a popularity and authenticity problem that Labour will try to exploit during the election campaign. A Taxpayers’ Union - Curia poll earlier in the month showed Hipkins’ net favourability falling from its honeymoon highs, but that Luxon’s net unfavourability rating remained negative and the worst for a National leader since the last month of Judith Collins’ leadership in November 2021.
Here’s an example yesterday from Hipkins pouncing on Luxon’s comments about killing National Deputy Leader Nicola Willis’ MDRS policy.
“This was driven by his own deputy, Nicola Willis. So she can’t trust (Luxon) to stick to a policy she signed National up to. New Zealanders can’t trust National to hold a consistent position on anything.” Chris Hipkins via Stuff yesterday.
Pulling a low target slightly forward
National Finance Spokeswoman Nicola Willis said yesterday National would release its Budget costings before the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update (PREFU), which is expected around month out from the election. That’s earlier than Willis previously indicated and comes after CTU Economist Craig Renney called for much more time to examine National’s cost-cutting plans to pay for $8 billion worth of tax cuts.
Long story short? National’s vagueness about exactly what would be cut to pay for its slightly-less-vague set of tax cuts is part of its low-target strategy of giving as little as possible for as short a time possible for Labour to attack. Labour has its own low-target strategy and is just as guilty of starving voters of time to debate its tax policies.
Wayne Brown set to lose Airport sale vote
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown doesn't have enough councillors supporting his plan to sell Auckland Council's airport shares, Bernard Orsman reports this morning for NZ Herald-$$$, citing an unnamed source that there are 12 votes against the sale and only 9 in favour.
Climate Change getting more real by the day
Tower announced yesterday it would expand its risk-based pricing to include landslide, flooding and coastal hazards for its car and home insurance. Tower was the first insurer in New Zealand to move to risk-based pricing by region and location for earthquakes after the Christchurch earthquakes, which triggered a rash of price increases for the likes of Wellington. Interest
Banks becoming friendlier to landlords
Independent economist Tony Alexander reported yesterday his survey of rental property investors this week showed they were finding it easier to get loans from their banks.
Gamers to run logistics instead?
Research released yesterday by Hanga-Aro-Rau, the government-funded Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics Workforce Development Council, found the sector needed an extra 4,700 to 18,000 workers by 2028 without some sort of intervention. It suggested recruiting gamers to run drones and robots. The industry certainly struggles to employ young people, as this chart on page 73 of the report shows:
The debt ceiling impasse is getting more real by the day too
Ratings agency Fitch warned overnight it may downgrade the United States' AAA sovereign credit rating because of a failure (so far) by political leaders to agree on lifting the US Government's debt ceiling before 'X' date, thought to be June 1, which would force the US Treasury to stop making payments, including eventually defaulting on US bonds.
Where is our solar surge?
The International Energy Agency reported overnight it saw global investment in clean energy rising to US$1.7t in 2023, with solar investment set to surpass oil investment for the first time. So why is New Zealand so slow in incentivising and rolling out solar?
Risky business model
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of Russia's Wagner Group mercenary army, said overnight Russia could face a "revolution" and lose its war in Ukraine unless the country's "elites" fully commit to the fight and put the country "into North Korea mode". He should stay clear of open windows in high buildings and politely decline offers of tea.
Not so hot
Germany fell into a technical recession in the March quarter after all. Fresh data overnight revised German GDP to a fall of 0.3% from being flat. A warmer-than-expected winter had earlier squashed fears of a deep European recession over winter.
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