New Zealand Poll Campaign Moves To Peoples’ Issues: "Dirty Politics" Spat Takes A Holiday

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 27, 2014 11:43 AM EST

The election campaigning in New Zealand became more serene after the mudslinging "dirty politics" subsided and parties chose to focus on people's issues.  The Dirty Politics revelations had targeted Prime Minister John Key's aides for running a smear campaign against political rivals.  

Reuters
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key smiles after the general election in Auckland November 26, 2011.

Thanks to the change, the poll discourse moved on to matters of housing, tax cuts, healthcare and economic credibility.

John Key Champions Housing

Prime Minister John Key has latched onto his party's promise of expanded subsidy to first-time home buyers -- the centrepiece of his campaign.

The Labour Party framed its response saying that the National proposal would only push up prices and only a few would get significant help. The Labour spokesman for Housing, Phil Twyford, said the expanded subsidy was not going to help the buyers. The experience in Australia has showed that benefit of subsidies goes more to the sellers while buyers gain very little.

Twyford said the proposal of Labour to build 10,000 affordable homes a year makes more sense. He also said that National has thrown millions into the bonfire of the Auckland housing market.

Housing Minister Nick Smith defended the freebie and said while it is not in favour of subsidies for new home builders, it makes sense as it would not push up prices much. Also it will encourage the construction of more low-priced houses.

Regarding the Weymouth project in Auckland, the National policy is seeking a transition from state housing to community-owned social housing. This will help the KiwiSaver HomeStart beneficiaries such as couples from the low and middle income groups to receive a new home.

Labour Suspends New Sops

Meanwhile, the Labour Party pruned its spending plans by a year and dumped six of its policies. This was in response to the worsening outlook in last week's pre-election update from the Treasury.

Labour Leader David Cunliffe said social policy promises had been retained with slight changes. This included a six-month delay to the free doctors' visits for elder citizens.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key hinted at some tax cuts, but does not want to disclose the details before the election.

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(Photo: Reuters / Nigel Marple )
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key smiles after the general election in Auckland November 26, 2011.
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