Why the TV debates between Jacinda & Judith matter more than ever


It’s good to see Mark Jennings reading TDB.

The TV debates between Jacinda and Judith matter more than ever this election and they remain the last chance of Judith breaking Jacinda.

NZ is herdism enough to stampede when they are spooked and right now, more New Zealander’s are fearful, anxious and depressed than possibly any other time in modern history.

These debates matter because so far Jacinda has been able to glide over the enormous challenges in front of us as she becomes a Presidential crisis manager.

The simple truth is that the Government have been too busy desperately protecting NZ from the pandemic to forge new policy let alone something transformative.

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The naked reality is that if NZers give Jacinda a majority Government, they will be expecting her to use it to be transformative enough to protect us from the Pandemic and rebuild it in a way that lifts us and is just.

The problem is Jacinda is so good, she has to do more than just beat Judith, she has to super nova it.

Protecting us from the pandemic isn’t enough, Jacinda must articulate a vision that can overcome our collective fear and anger where as all Judith has to do is play to those triggers.



Jacinda’s media briefings may have created a false sense of complacency. Live debates have an energy and life of their own, there certainly isn’t the respectful silence Jacinda will have become accustomed to, sure the Press Gallery Journalists pile on afterwards, but that civility to explain won’t exist with Judith and it’s in that far more intimate setting that can cause mis-step and look like floundering.

Jacinda has to acknowledge the sacrifice and fear NZers have been through. She has an almost super power skill to engage empathetically with people so she must talk over the host and Judith and speak directly to the camera and connect with them.

She also needs to dominate the headlines by announcing new policy on the night live during the debate. This policy has to be populist and big vision stuff that she connects the acknowledgment of pain with so that she is offering a solution.




I like to beat a sack of puppies with a cricket bat.
Would you like a cucumber sandwich?

She has nothing to lose while Jacinda has everything to lose, so Judith will be coming with every dirty trick in the book. The best bet for Judith is to attack Jacinda from a position she is not used to defending from so expect Judith to suddenly care about inequality, suicide, homelessness, housing and poverty.

Judith is likely to be executed by National the moment she loses the election so a desperate Collins might attempt to unleash white fragility and culture war triggers in the debates as an Orewa Speech Hail Mary.

She could play a straight bat and simply attack Jacinda on the credibility of their pandemic management or economic rebuild but unless there is a significant outbreak between now and the debates, Jacinda simply has to point to the numbers as proof Labour outperformed the world in pandemic response and most Kiwi’s now see Labour as better economic managers.

So that leaves desperate gambles for Judith and that’s when she is at her most dangerous.


The Debates:

They are short one Horseman.

TVNZ: John Campbell is hosting and he won’t allow Jacinda to get off without challenging her on the lack of transformation while he will crucify Judith’s criticisms with the 9 years of their failures. It will be the most watched debate. Jessica Mutch McKay’s final debate will be technical and anti-climactic.

TV3: It will be a gotcha minefield that will probably dovetail from a breaking exclusive that Newshub runs with just before the debate. The partisan panelists Tova grills afterwards are the ones most likely to generate headlines the next day.

The cannabis referendum debate will be decided by Gower’s show on it.


  • 19 September, 9.30am: Newshub Nation presents Battlegrounds – a special programme dedicated to some of the most hotly-contested electorates in the country, featuring a debate between the key Northland Candidates, on location in the Bay of Islands.
  • Tuesday 22 September – The first Leaders’ Debate takes place between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins at 7-8.30pm on TVNZ 1. Moderated by John Campbell.
  • Monday 28 September – The Young Voters Debate in association with Auckland University will feature candidates from a range of parties and will be live streamed via 1news.co.nz and 1 NEWS social channels. Moderated by Jack Tame.
  • Wednesday 30 September: Overseas voting starts
  • 30 September, 7.30pm: Newshub Decision 2020 Leaders Debate with Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins, hosted by Patrick Gower and post-debate analysis by Tova O’Brien with guest panellists. Live on Three, ThreeNow, Newshub’s Facebook page and YouTube account. Simulcast on Magic Talk.
  • Saturday 3 October: Advance voting starts
  • 3 October, 9.30am: Newshub Nation presents Powerbrokers, its multi-party leaders’ debate  featuring the Green Party’s Marama Davidson , the ACT Party’s David Seymour, and John Tamihere from The Maori Party.
  • 7 October, 8.30pm: Newshub Decision 2020 The Cannabis Question, moderated by Patrick Gower. Live on Three, ThreeNow, Newshub’s Facebook page and YouTube account.
  • Thursday 8 October – The Multi-Party Debate will include NZ First, The Green Party and Act at 7-8pm on TVNZ 1. Moderated by Jessica Mutch McKay.
  • 14 October, 8.30pm: Newshub Decision 2020 The Euthanasia Question, moderated by Patrick Gower. Live on Three, ThreeNow, Newshub’s Facebook page and YouTube account.
  • Thursday 15 October – The final Leaders’ Debate airs at 7-8pm on TVNZ 1. Featuring Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins, this will be the last broadcast debate before New Zealanders head to voting booths on Election Day. Moderated by Jessica Mutch McKay.
  • Friday 16 October: Advance voting ends
  • Friday 16 October midnight: The regulated period ends. All election and referendum advertising must end. Signs must be taken down by midnight.
  • Saturday 17 October: Election day. Voters can vote from 9am to 7pm.
  • 17th October 7pm – The Greatest NZ Election Results Show on Earth: Magic Talk Radio with Sean Plunket, Damien Grant and Martyn Bradbury
  • Friday 30 October: Preliminary results for the referendums
  • Friday 6 November: Official results for the general election and referendums

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  1. Martyn this was a good depiction of the attack Judith will make on Jacinda.
    You said; “The best bet for Judith is to attack Jacinda from a position she is not used to defending from so expect Judith to suddenly care about inequality, suicide, homelessness, housing and poverty.”

    Where jacinda can win the debate is to point out ‘National’s weakness with transport’.

    All National has is “roads roads and more roads” – Evert today when Paul Goldsmith was interviewed by John Campbell on TV one. Goldsmith said “we will get four lane roads to Tauranga”

    We all know that National is in the pockets of the ‘oil companies and the road freight transport industry’.

    so Jacinda can say; – “we will balance the freight between rail and roads, – after to many years of national overspending our public funds just for roads and not rail freight transport, – Labour are changing transport to use lower climate emissions and use of rail is the best way to save our future climate for our people.”

    • I do hope she tries that, because it won’t end well for her. This is because most people want roads. They don’t want flaky ‘light rail’ projects that take nobody from somewhere to nowhere.

      • “They don’t want flaky ‘light rail’ projects that take nobody from somewhere to nowhere.”

        I think your understanding of light rail probably needs a little work.

      • Andrew you’re onto it. The roading arteries in this country are a complete fuckup. Northern highway still being looked at. Please. The make over in Hawke’s Bay has left the punters with a narrower highway from Waipukurau to Napier with cheese cutter barriers that have slowed traffic, restricted overtaking and to my mind made the highway dangerous because emergency vehicles now have trouble getting through existing traffic and motor cycle riders better not come off. The obsession with this coalition to make the existing roads safer as against proper four lane highway construction is to my mind pathetic. this Government has made existing roading issues worse by not wanting more cars but getting them anyway and unlike National doesn’t realise that poor traffic movement means putting the brakes on what’s left of the economy. I won’t even start on transmission gully which was started with National with its bad contracts but was carried on with this dumb fuck government who didn’t think four lanes from Levin was a priority. The pea brains are the size of mustard seeds which would be more intelligent. This forum criticises National for wanting to build roads. FFS.

        • Well ‘new view’, the assumption that in the future there will be fuel to power internal combustion engines is ENTIRELY FALSE.

          Conventional oil extraction peaked around 2007 and is in terminal decline. The global economic system was propped up in the short term by high-cost unconventional oil. But demand destruction and nations going broke (along with consumers going broke) have resulted in current oil prices being too low to support unconventional extraction. Fracking companies are closing down as I write. And oil majors are suffering such huge losses they are cannibalising themselves to stay afloat [in the short term].


          On top of the terminal oil predicament there is the matter of runaway global overheating -Planetary Meltdown- which is already devastating large swathes of the Earth, and which is largely due to oil-based transport and oil-based commerce.

          So, I put it to you that you have to be braindead to want to ‘invest’ in more roads and bigger roads, and that in fact you are the ‘dumb fuck’, ‘FFS’.

          Now if you have scientific evidence that the oil geologists are wrong about Peak Oil, and have scientific evidence that the atmospheric chemists are wrong about planetary overheating, we’d all like to hear about it!

          Perhaps you would like to contest the meteorologists who recently reported that the past winter in NZ was the warmest ever.

          In the real world, you can bet your bottom dollar that the industrial system you appear to be so wedded to will be going down in a screaming heap over the next few years, not just because of Covid-19 but because of it’s self-defeating activities.

          None of this is news, of course, and simply takes a little rational thought and a modicum of research to establish.

            • oh yes, the ‘hydrogen economy’ that has been promised since the 1960s but never actually appears because there is no hydrogen-the nearest major source being the Sun. Good luck collecting hydrogen from that source.

              All other hydrogen in this part of the galaxy (other than miniscule amounts generated in the upper atmosphere by cosmic radiation) is made from hydrogen compounds, incurring a substantial energy loss in the process, between 40% and 80%.

              Yes’ we can make hydrogen from water using electrolysis, again with an extraordinary energy cost and enormous financial and environmental cost. Hence, nobody is doing it.

              I see you have bought into the electric car delusion. The manufacture of electric cars requires more resources than the manufacture of internal combustion cars; and where does the electricity to charge electric cars come from? Granted a portion comes from environmentally unsustainable hydro, but a large portion comes from burning fossil fuels.

              You are utterly deluded if you think trucks can run on anything other than petroleum-derived fuels.

              Keep taking the pabulum. the ‘soma’, that the mainstream media serves up to keep the masses believing the system has a future even as it collapses. With population overshoot we need plenty of people to go under via belief in the mainstream narratives.

              Next you’ll be telling us we’re going to be colonising Mars.

              A word of advice: Energy is everything, and without it nothing happens.

              A second word of advice: the biggest mistake in human history was to abandon self-sustaining pre-industrial systems and adopt the mass consumption of fossil fuels as a convenient energy source.

              There is no escape from the self-made progress trap we are in. And there are only two possible endings to the game:

              1. Coronavirus or some other factor quickly terminates Industrial Civilisation, leading to widespread mayhem and die-off.

              2. Somehow (and I don’t know how) TPTB manage to keep the industrial system going a few more years, resulting in even greater climate chaos than we are already witnessing, further destruction of our life support systems, and then widespread starvation and mayhem that leads to die-off.

              Of the options available to us, clearly a managed transition to a low energy lifestyle is preferable. Yet the vast majority of people choose the latter option, i.e. comfort and convenience now and extreme suffering in the near future.

                • My railways? Andrew.

                  I think you need to read what I wrote again.

                  ‘the biggest mistake in human history was to abandon self-sustaining pre-industrial systems and adopt the mass consumption of fossil fuels as a convenient energy source’

                  Some would argue that adoption of fossil fuels was humanity’s second biggest mistake, and that abandoning the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was the biggest.

                  We do know [from examination of skeletal and dental remain] that wherever settled agriculture developed the health of the populace went down. We’re just not designed to live on grains or milk, or cheese. The answer to that particular conundrum seems to be that, although there was a general decline in health, the number of humans an area of land could support was higher when grains were grown.

                  So, not ‘my railways’ but a distinct aberration in the grand scheme of things, inherited from my ancestors or their contemporaries, and designed to shift coal and manufactured goods faster than horse pace.

                  As we now know, the quest for speed has been a major component of our undoing as a species and as the dominant species on this planet.

                  No railways = no blast furnaces; no cars; no trucks; no steel-hulled ships… no anything that is fucking up the planet superfast.

                  I know the paradigm shift is just too hard for most people. The resistance put up by people like you, Andrew, clearly demonstrates that.

                  That resistance to truth/reality and the refusal to become informed about anything of significance is why we, as a society, are doomed (as I suggested in print in the year 2000, long before the environmental crisis and energy crisis and financial crisis had fully manifested).

                  Burn baby, burn.

  2. all I can say is great bring it on and thank fuck that John Campbell is hosting and not that other idiot you know the one I mean drives a fast car like my Nana does.

  3. If we are “fearful, anxious and depressed” and Judith Collins is the medication the antidote, we are past saving and past being worth saving.

  4. Ardern is a proven debater and at the peak of her powers. I think announcing a big new policy at the first debate risks looking panicky and like an attempt to distract. She nailed it when she said at the election launch it’s about trust, she just needs to repeat that in the debate because it creates a contrast with Collins.

    Collins has to walk the fine line between putting pressure on Ardern and not looking like she’s talking down our country or Covid response. Can you imagine if she tries to and Ardern looks at her and says “I will not stand her and listen to my opponent talk down what our country sacrificed to get here. The families who missed weddings, funerals, saying goodbye to loved ones”.

    If Ardern is to announce policy it should be in the Newshub debate. As you say they will already be after “gotcha” moments and have questions lined up to wedge Ardern into giving a response to generate clickbait, something like “YES or NO, have you smoked pot. YES or NO?”, so make a big announcement that will reduce the effectiveness of their little stunt at being the headline.

    • Is she really a proven debater?

      I ask this because all I’ve ever seen is patsy interviews by the media and Mallard protecting her in Parliament. On the few occasions when she’s been caught out, she pouts like a sulky teenager.

      Facing Collins could be a very sharp shock for her.

      • I think she’ll be fine. Communication is her forte and the majority of the public is both fond of her on a personal level, and immensely grateful for the way in which she’s guided the country through a global pandemic. All Collins has to offer is bile, spite, and venom — it’s dreadfully tiresome stuff and hardly likely to win people over. She exhibits all the human warmth of a glacier. Also, National Party = ‘shambles’, and Gerry Brownlee = ‘peddler of conspiracy theories’. National has nothing to offer New Zealand other than endless roads and torrents of negativity. Collins will fight like a cornered dog I don’t doubt, but I can’t see her prevailing in the current political climate.

      • Agree Andrew, Jacinda is a top communicator (talker) but she is not the greatest debator. Yes in Parliament she is protected by Mallard and also “the old dog that knows all the tricks” Winston. Who when she is under presssure, comes up with a slightly off beat question to deflect the opposition attack. Further she is exceptionally easy to read when under pressure she flaps her hands and wobbles her head to try to avoid being “read”
        Now she is up against a stone faced litigation lawyer who is a trained “arguer” debator.
        In the end the result will be determined by the 10% “swingers ” who the poĺls say are currently with Labour who were with National at the last election. Are they going to go with the empathetic warm waffle of Jacinda or with the hard message of National? That is the question

        • Collins is a novice. Ardern destroyed English at the last election debates and had been around a while. Collins will stutter, obfuscate and demean, none of which can be described as ” sharp skills”.

  5. In 2018 and 2019 Jacinda Ardern was named in the Time list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
    In April 2019 she was named world’s second greatest leader by Fortune magazine.
    In June 2019 she was voted the most trusted politician in Australia.
    In January 2020 she was named Pacific Person of the Year.
    In May 2020 the Ardern-led response was ranked first in the world for Covid-19 communications.
    In July 2020 she was named the world’s most eloquent leader.
    And in September 2020 she was voted second top thinker in the world by Prospect magazine.

    What was that about Judith Collins again………….?

  6. Here it comes! (Much as anticipated by anyone with their eyes on the ball.)

    Firstly, the US trade balance has come in a terrible -US$63.4 bln for July, the worst result since 2008. Exports were down more than -20% from the same month in 2019, imports were down -11%. The tariff war is having no impact on imports from China because the US deficit with China went up to -$31.6 bln in the month and worse than for June. The only impact it is having is that American are paying more for these imports – and ironically they purchased +8% more from China in July than June. The Chinese purchased -2% less from the US in the same period. The US is running a busted trade policy – although that comes as no surprise to everyone but about three people….

    In Australia, their July trade surplus narrowed a bit more than expected. Exports fell (-4.4%) and imports rose (+6.9%). Their service exports took a sizable step lower, down -12%. Their July surplus was +AU$5.4 bln and well below the June surplus of +AU$8.1 bln….

    In New York, the S&P500 is being trashed today, down -3.9% in afternoon trade today. Overnight European markets fell about -1.4% on average. …

    The UST 10yr yield is down another -3 bps today at 0.62%. Their 2-10 curve is flatter again now under +50 bps. Their 1-5 curve is down -2 bps at +11 bps, and their 3m-10yr curve flatter too at +53 bps. The Aussie Govt 10yr yield is down -2 bps at 0.89%. The China Govt 10yr is still rising, up +3 bps at 3.14%. But the NZ Govt 10 yr yield is little-changed at 0.64%….

    Oil prices are slightly lower again today, down to under US$41.50/bbl in the US while the international price is down slightly less to just on US$44/bbl. (Demand destruction)…

    The bitcoin price is sharply lower today again from this time yesterday, now at US$10,744 which is another -5.5% drop. In fact since Wednesday it has dropped more than -US$1200 or -NZ$1600.


    Just how bad it will all be by the time the system has staggered on for another 6 weeks is anyone’s guess.

    Never mind, we might have cameras on most fishing boats by the end of 2024.

    • A lot of complicated stuff there. When Trump gets up in the coming weeks and simply says, “We have built the world’s strongest economy,” he will be believed.

  7. Here’s something for them to debate (if the system hasn’t gone kaput by the time of the debates).

    ‘New Zealand given ‘F for failure’ on child obesity and youth suicide in Unicef report

    ‘Woeful’ result puts country in bottom 15% for overall child wellbeing which Ardern says reflects previous government’s underinvestment’

    Unicef says New Zealand is failing children after a new report revealed the country’s poor childhood obesity and suicide statistics have pushed it to near the very bottom on child wellbeing.

    The latest Unicef Innocenti report card shows that, out of 41 developed countries in the OECD and European Union, New Zealand ranks 35th.

    The country’s youth suicide rates are the second highest in the developed world, with 14.9 deaths per 100,000 adolescents, according to the UN Children’s Fund rankings. Only 64% of 15-year-olds have basic reading and maths skills.

    New Zealand also has the second-highest obesity rate in the OECD with than one in three children being obese or overweight.

    (Ardern government fails to reduce child poverty in New Zealand. Read more.)

    Unicef NZ executive director Vivien Maidaborn said New Zealand’s rankings were “woeful”.

    “The report card gives New Zealand an F for failure when it comes to wellbeing outcomes for children,” she said. “This is a woeful result for a country that prides itself on the great outdoors, academic achievement, and the international success of our sports teams. It is time to be alarmed and activated about the inequality of opportunity, health and wellbeing in New Zealand.”

    She said that Unicef urged the government to listen carefully to the perspectives of children and young people, and to hear what they have to say about wellbeing.

    “We need to reimagine Aotearoa by heeding the advice from child rights experts – and especially Māori leaders and academics – in order to make New Zealand the best country in the world to be a child.”

    The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the report was more reflective of the previous government’s underinvestment in families and did not take into account its recent progress and funding that had been allocated to the area.

    Ardern said the Unicef report pre-dated both her government’s $5.5bn (US$3.7bn) families package and its progress lifting more than 18,000 children out of poverty.

    In December last year, New Zealand’s children’s commissioner said the Ardern government had failed to reduce child poverty. Andrew Becroft’s report found 148,000 children lived in homes experiencing material hardship in six or more areas, including lack of access to basics such as warm clothing, health care and food. The figures were unchanged since the first report into child poverty in 2012.

    Ardern’s government accepted the recommendations from the Unicef report to consult with children, ensure an integrated approach to child wellbeing and plan for the future, she said.

    “What’s important is that as a government we keep making progress to ensure our children have a warm, dry home, access to healthcare, safe and healthy food, and the chance to have a childhood in which they’re free to learn and play,” Ardern said.

    European countries all came at the top of the charts for child wellbeing with the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Spain, France, Belgium, Slovenia, and Sweden all taking out the top 10 places.’


  8. Imagine ‘debating’ with the stunted judy? What’s there to debate?? It’d be like debating with a rabid Stoat in a frock.
    The way I look at [it] is that we’re about to open the airlock and step out onto an unknowable world.
    I know that judith collins wants to drink our blood then grow pansies up our dead arse holes, just to be polite, you know how it is? Appearances darlings, but what about jacinda? What’s up with that girl? What does she want? And as we all know, everybody wants something.
    What does Jacinda want? What’s up Jacinda? What’s your vector? What’s the plan? Where’s your thinking?
    Who’s influencing you? Who’s your string puller? Who’s tune do you dance to? I know from experience that we dance too, we all have our string pullers, I’m just writing that to let you know, you’re not alone. We’re all playing the game. It’s not our game, it’s not the game of our choosing otherwise I’d have that Ferrari and that homeless person would be in that bed in that house, all cuddled up to that person they love and loves me back. All warm and cosy while the park bench is a nightmare that reoccurs, and that’s the price you pay, homeless person. You’re warm and safe now, but there was that cold hard footpath….
    Do you know what’s going down? Yes, you, dear reader, because I have no fucking idea. When I look at our politic all I see is mayhem, fear and confusion while fat bastards get fatter and string pullers pull our strings.
    There’s that old saying? ” The truth shall set you free.”
    That’s why we’re so imprisoned maybe? We’ve not heard truths for generations. We’re still locked up within their lies and myths.
    Other, less fortunate countries might argue that we’re not hungry enough yet to embrace reality.
    You know what this is? It’s wine bottle wisdom. Should be taken with a grain of salt.
    Hey you!? Wish granting fairy on that Unicorn? Yes, you! All I want is my dues and twenty minutes alone with roger douglas, so how about it?

  9. Lets look at the NZ National Party in its current form and that is it has gone through a number of so-called leaders that leaves alot to be desired.
    One of its leaders was into sexually harassing females and got away with it. The next was into double dipping. The next after that was into tripping around the North Island during a lock down and after that one who didn’t know where something was in a fridge in his own home. The last is one who looks alot like a bride of some ghoulish fictional character.
    But I think National have chosen Collins as their leader because they don’t exactly have a credit worthy track record and also they think having a female leader against Jacinda will result in more votes by the female voter population of New Zealand.
    And so right now the best Collins can do or rather pathetically try to achieve is pure childish pettiness so as to look good to those who are stupid enough to vote for her.
    Mind you between now and election time I will be interested to see how much arse-licking the wannabe National MP like Mike Hosking, Tova-id Obrien and so many others will give to National whilst disparaging anything this government says and does.


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