While Judith Collins and Jacinda Ardern waged a phony war over which taxes they wouldn’t levy, their potential coalition partners were laughing all the way to the polling booth. We reveal who had a good day and who had a bad day on the campaign trail.

With friends like this, who needs enemies? National leader Judith Collins today won the unsolicited endorsement of disgraced former National MP Todd Barclay, the former tobacco lobbyist forced to resign his Clutha-Southland Parliamentary seat after secretly tape-recording female staff.

“She’s backed me through some of my most challenging personal and professional times, even when supporting me put her own reputation at risk with more senior people in our party,” Barclay posted on LinkedIn, accompanied by a photo of the two of them smiling together in her Parliamentary office. We think it was an old photo – we can’t imagine Barclay would get in past security, these days.

It was definitely a bad day for Collins. Her wealth tax attack on Labour blew back in her face, when she found herself having to rule out implementing the ACT party’s flat tax – the same contentious tax that led to the break-up of David Lange’s Fourth Labour Government. Thar be dragons, Judith!


The funny thing was, the ACT flat tax policy that Collins was promising to not implement was not, in fact, ACT policy. ACT leader David Seymour, laughing, said they had removed it from their manifesto months ago.

While Collins was debating whether to adopt ACT’s tax policies, National had already stolen ACT’s campaign slogan. National has launched a campaign ad saying, “Only a party vote for National will change your future.”

The problem is, “change your future” is already ACT’s slogan. “We’re used to having to come up with policy for them, now we’re having to come up with slogans as well,” said a gleeful Seymour, who was clearly having a good day.


Labour’s Jacinda Ardern started her day with two hours of debate and niggle with Newstalk breakfast host Mike Hosking. That’s a good day, right there, even before half the country had finished their morning Weetbix. After that, she must have been all talked out. Challenged to end her long absence from Twitter, she did – with the one-word tweet, “Vote”, and the hashtag #LetsKeepMoving.

Later in the day in Hamilton, she was mobbed by crowds demanding selfies – until eventually, she did a runner out the back door of the huge Base shopping centre. “I’m shocked, but also she’s the prime minister, she’s busy,” well-wisher Hamish Bunn told Stuff. “I was standing here for quite a while and then someone finally came out to tell us she’s left. They could have told us earlier.”


One small cloud on Ardern’s day must have been the resolve of her Greens coalition partner, standing its ground on the wealth tax that it says will be a priority in any post-election negotiations. With Collins hectoring her over whether she would implement the wealth tax, Ardern would have wished it would just go away. Greens co-leader James Shaw could have made it go away for her  – but he showed the Greens had no attention of being walked over by the two big party leaders. Asked on RNZ Morning Report whether he would expect to have negotiations with Labour over a wealth tax, he stuck to his guns: “Yes I do. I don’t know how those negotiations are going to go of course, that depends on the election on Saturday … you’ve got to give voters a chance to have their say.” Another good day for Shaw.


Ah, and here we are down the bottom of the page again, and another shocking day for NZ First leader Winston Peters. (Of course, the more we adjudge it a bad day, the more his supporters will dig in against the Big Media conspiracy!) 

If National had ripped off the slogan of its comrade-in-arms, Act, Peters’ made a far worse misjudgment. Bizarrely, he decided to co-opt the language of #BlackLivesMatter with a speech headlined “seniors lives matter”. “We, and you, need to rise up and say, ‘Senior Lives Matter’,” he proclaimed.

You know what, Winston? Your senior citizens voters aren’t getting beaten up in the streets by police. They aren’t dying in prison cells. Get some perspective.

And Peters’ day just got worse from there, with news that the aforementioned Big Media had teamed up to go to court to demand suppression be lifted on the names of two people charged in the NZ First Foundation donations case. The two are accused of using a “fraudulent device, trick or stratagem” to secure more than $700,000 that was then used to pay expenses for the New Zealand First party. There can now be little doubt, Peters is the victim of a conspiracy – a conspiracy of openness and transparency.

Newsroom Pro managing editor Jonathan Milne covers business, politics and the economy.

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