The First TVNZ Leaders Debate 7pm tonight: Why it’s important, why Judith will be dangerous + Waterstone podcast reaction show


The TV debates between Jacinda and Judith matter more than ever this election and they remain the last chance of Judith breaking Jacinda and because the campaign has been so amputated and people haven’t had the normal chances of meeting their candidates.

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.

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.

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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.

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 and it will also have the added impact of having the latest TVNZ Political Poll which is breaking tonight at 6pm.

Damien Grant & I will watch the debate live and post our reaction Podcast 9pm tonight.



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.

UPDATE: Wow – Jacinda destroyed Hosking this morning – if she brings half this fire to the Leaders debate, Judith is dust

Ardern: “Mike, if in your view there’s a perfect model here, you are welcome to that view.”
Hosking: “No you are being too linear. It’s not a matter of a perfect model or a non-perfect model, it’s about nuance and subtlety.”
Ardern: “Mike, if you’re saying you’re now a person of nuance and subtlety, bless. I am not going to claim perfection but I will stand by our response.”



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  1. Jacinda will stick to Covid and the ‘we went hard and early’ mantra and make it all about saving NZ….she cannot compete on anything else, the Govt figures over last 3 years are bloody woeful with homelessness/child poverty/welfare etc all up under her watch.
    All she has is Covid!
    Let’s play Jacinda Bingo….a swig of drink if the phrases “Absolutely”, “9 long years”, “As a mother” and not forgetting the classic start of a response of “Awwww look”
    Charge your glasses people….

    • This “debate” will be so predictable that it isn’t worth watching, not that any of the previous were anyway.
      JA will more or less say nothing apart from Covid talk, and Crusher will just blather on points scoring negativity all night, and the next day and the next………. It won’t make a blind bit of difference to polling. If I watch this then I really need to get a life. Boring Boring Boring.

    • Yes we will thanks I’m Right.
      But you will need to give yourself a cup of tea with ‘chamomile’ as a calming support’ in it to calm your nerves down as you watch the sinking national poll.

      • I quite like a Tramodol / Codeine cocktail myself. Best for first thing in the morning. Otherwise you might be up all night mumbling and shuffling.
        I had a sick puppy who was prescribed tramodol which made her sicker and agitated so after a bit of research and with a wee bottle of codeine’s for a neck injury…
        Off you go Im right. Let the sun shine in.

  2. Who said this:
    “In 2019, New Zealand made the bold step of formally dropping GDP as its primary measure of economic success and created its own index based upon its most pressing national concerns.

    “In this single act, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shifted the priorities of her whole country away from pure growth and towards something that better reflects the aspirations many of us have.”

    David Attenborough.

    While calling out for other governments to follow Ardern’s example, Attenborough also offered advice to people on changes they can make to their everyday life to help the fight for humankind’s survival.

    “We are polluting our air, draining our rivers, warming the oceans and making them more acidic. We have depleted the ozone layer and brought about potentially disastrous climate change,” he wrote.

    “Humankind, in other words, has set a course for a devastating future, not just for the natural world but for itself. And if we continue, we will, like the people who once lived in the shadow of Chernobyl, risk sleepwalking into global catastrophe.”

    “What faces us today is nothing less than the collapse of the living world. Yet there is still time to change course, to find a better way of living.”

    Attenborough says “respect for biodiversity” should be at the heart of this global effort.
    Full article at this link: Attenborough Praises Jacinda Arderns Policies

  3. Martyn – Couple of points. First of all the One news poll which will be aired during the news will show a 20+ point gap between Labour and National and that will knock the stuff out of Judith even before she starts. Next, Judith struggles to put two sentences together and she will not be a match for Jacinda. So this debate will be a damp squib.

    • Kinda’ agree. The person wth the most to fear here (although ironically being a psychopath she won’t) is the Natz current Leader. She damages the Natz brand with every appearance – that’s why she was ‘leadership pick of last resort’.
      Their incoherent policy announcements. Their flip flopping on taxes, borders etc. Their polling numbers suggesting serious issues behind the scenes (so bad in fact, that they’ve bled support to nutters like Seymour and the recycled failed Rogernomics he peddles).

      BTW what’s happened to Big Gezza? Has he finally collapsed under his own gravitational mass or something and disappeared from our Universe?

  4. I doubt this will be raised as a question, but I’d really, really like to know why Westpac, an Aussie bank, continues to be used for our AO/NZ finances. Surely we should be investing all our finances in our own homegrown bank!

    Particularly when some foreign owned banks are now being revealed as blatantly corrupt: BNZ and ANZ named in dirty money transactions.

    • Kheala – My understanding is that under our CER agreements, we cannot favour local banks over other banks or some such clause exists. Otherwise we should do our government business using our own bank. That is the reason successive National and Labour governments have not changed over to Kiwi bank. May be Kiwi bank is not offering an attractive arrangement for the government to switch over!!!

      • Well our govt could use the exposed corruption of those other banks as the reason to bring it back home. Westpac was not one of those so far exposed, but the other two Aus banks were, and that’s sufficient reason to say, eg, “Look, We have to be 100% sure of what’s happening with our money, so we’re bringing it back now”.

        We need to become much more protective of our own, here in Aotearoa NZ.

  5. I’m concerned about the debate platform. Ardern is easily the best communicator in NZ Politics since David Lange and possibly ever but this debate will be like no other.

    Desperate Collins will have had plenty of time and ample assistance constructing a list of gotcha type questions for Ardern. They will require time to answer and negate but the time restraints of such a debate will make that almost impossible. Collins knows that so will interrupt Ardern at every opportunity so she ends up unable to answer the original question in full let alone the BS interruption.

    This debate is set up for attack attack attack by Collins and with that dynamic gifted, she “could” control the narrative. During the 2017 election campaign, Ardern lost all her momentum when she was forced to defend defend defend against the machine gun fire BS and misrepresentations being fired at her by National. This very deliberate strategy prevented Labour from highlighting a long list of diabolical failings by the then National Government. You have to question if Ardern would have gone after National anyway. She appeared only interested in focusing on her own plans if afforded the opportunity to Govern. This being kind and nice resulted in National controlling the narrative and Labour needing NZF to get into Government. This exact same dynamic could unfold tonight. Ardern herself has already signaled her intent to highlight achievements in the first term. This gifts National an epic free pass when what’s needed is accountability and the spotlight firmly put on National.

    John Campbell will want to prove his impartiality especially with those who will be bleating loudest about him. The blue army. This ends up with a likely scenario of him overcompensating in favour of Collins. It must be remembered that his employer wants nothing more than National being back in Government.

    If Ardern has a 50/50 share of the stage and ditches being kind and nice, she will chew Collins up and spit her out.

    • “I’m concerned about the debate platform. Ardern is easily the best communicator in NZ Politics since David Lange and possibly ever”…..FFS, how far does your nose go up Jacinda?
      What you are saying is that Jacinda is a fantastic communicator only when she has a prepared answer or knows the questions beforehand? Is that what you are gearing Jacindafan…that without a script and afore knowledge of questions then she will be shown up as Obama like, great at reading prepared speeches and reading teleprompters but an unscripted debate, not so much!
      LoL….don’t worry there will be a few ‘i’ll have to get back to you on that’s, ‘thats something we need a discussion about’ plus the classic ‘thats not what I’ve heard, and refute your fugures’
      Don’t worry Jacindafan, Campbell will ensure she is not embarrassed by jumping in to save St Jacinda by cutting short Judith’s questions…you can leave off the anxiety meds!

    • his employer wants nothing more than National being back in Government.

      John Campbell’s employer is TVNZ ????
      (This is not the Garner/ Hosking/Richardson/HDPA/ Hawkesbeak lot – That gang are up next time around.)

  6. This government has fucked almost everything it has touched, so if Collins doesn’t wipe the floor with Adern she should be sacked.
    But none of this is important because Labour are going to win by a landslide regardless of what Collins does.

    • Jesus @ JAYS. Where have you been? Not rifling through Big-Bump judy’s moth balled wig box again? Because something’s gassed your ability to see reason.
      Imagine poor old Labour’s job of trying to sort through jonky’s well varnished nine years of catastrophic cluster fucks? Remember homeless people? Remember jonky instead giving sir pete jackson $135 mil of ours when jackson didn’t really, actually need it, so for nothing? How about jonky’s brilliant multi million dollar lets change the appearance of our hand money for a giggle swindle?
      Or, and my favourite, the flag change referendum scam that swiped another many millions out of what it should have been doing. Circulating through those most at risk.
      Oh? Nearly forgot. South Canterbury Finance? We paid riche people to stay riche while other simply unlucky people hunkered down on cardboard on Queen Street? Wow! Awesome right @ JAYS?
      Where would labour start, just to fix that shit?
      Labour showed the world that we are an intelligent, open minded, kind and empathetic people while jonky gave us greed is good and Mike Hoskings, jonky’s little plaything, literally said that in the studio. ” Greed is Good.”
      Labour, on the other hand said and I paraphrase, ” Fuck the money! Lets keep people safe from a deadly, pandemic and chillingly novel virus. ” And if you don’t think it’s that novel? Big Jizz? Are you reading this? Check this out?
      Go on? I dare you.
      The Guardian.
      Mutant virus: should we be worried that Sars-CoV-2 is changing?
      The ONLY way to approach c-19 at this point is to keep it the fuck away from us.
      And Labour not only did that, but after a mysterious c-19 resurgence, did it again while everyone else GLOBALLY is distracted by having to bury their dead. 200,000 in the USA and counting.
      And is this where I mention a $4 B-B-Billion dollar, tiny, wee, nothing really mistake in Natzo’s cyphering’s? Big Jizzo looks rattled and I kind of hope he blows up. I bet that’d get a YouTube clip. If he blew up at, say, the intersection of Queens Street and K Road? I bet you’d get guts from Herne Bay to Remuera.
      Regardless of Labour’s roger douglas sabotaged years, Labour has earned another three years. There’s no argument against that.

      • … ”Big Jizzo looks rattled and I kind of hope he blows up. I bet that’d get a YouTube clip. If he blew up at, say, the intersection of Queens Street and K Road? I bet you’d get guts from Herne Bay to Remuera ” …

        Kind of reminds me of this …

        Monty pythons, Mr creosote, Full version

  7. Judith will be dangerous because she will remind all of NZ of the miserable failures produced by Labour….too many to list here.
    At the same time Judith will point out some of the latest policies National has come up with: the tech ministry, the tax package (yes, even though it has that hole) and the improved handling of the borders. ALL GREAT POLICIES THAT JACINDA WISHES SHE HAD ROLLED OUT!
    Throughout the debate, selfie shooting much adored law-breaker Jacinda will be quietly praying and thinking “thank god for virusses, thank god for earthquakes and volcanoes, because without them we’d get our arse kicked and I would have to pack my suitcase for that job at the UN”.

      • GreenBus,

        Herman doesn’t drink beer. Pink Gin is his go. It matches his slippers.

        He will be pulling off his signed photo of Chucky from his headboard after the debate tonight. Very sad of course so no doubt he will comfort himself by pulling something else off.

      • He is right that the only reason Labour aren’t out in their area is because of the coronavirus.
        Their performance has been utterly woeful.
        Intentions don’t matter, results matter. And quite frankly the only government worse than this one that I can remember is Muldoon.

        • A previous National provided a housing crisis , infrastructire deficit, degrading of women, lowering of wages, opened the floodgates with immigration, corruption and you have the absolute gaul to say Labour have been woeful, frankly the previous National government made Muldoon look like Ghandi!

          • Holy fuck you are a delusional fuckwit.
            Successive governments left and right are responsible for where we are now.
            However this government has been especially damaging to the poor.

    • How does it feel to be in a club that has only one member, Herman? Because all I see is universal condemnation of National, not only for the lack of policy suited to the times we live in but also for the decades of looting and polluting orchestrated by National that got us into this mess.

  8. Judith’s big problem is Jacinda is very popular. This is not like when Trump could throw everything at Clinton in those debates and everyone shrugged their shoulders, because Clinton was as unpopular as him. But Jacinda is miles ahead in terms of likeability, trust etc, so if Judith is too aggressive it will backfire. Also attacking the PM on homelessness, suicide etc. would be an own goal since voters still trust Labour more on those issues so it’s not really going to switch votes. Judith’s best shot is to wait for opportunities or moments to get in funny quips or one liners that trip up Jacinda, but I don’t know if she’s quick enough to do that, or has the skills to pull it off.

  9. Good theatre if nothing else. Better than contact sport. And here in our own little ol’ paradise by heck we are good at this kind of media spectacle. I kinda like it tho. I’ll be keeping a score card, not of points won but of what REALLY matters beyond winning the argument on the night and making your opponent wish they should have stayed home.

  10. Ardern: “Mike, if you’re saying you’re now a person of nuance and subtlety, bless.”

    lol 😀

    J: “I am not going to claim perfection but I will stand by our response.”

    She is going to be fine tonight. I think she’ll even enjoy it. 🙂

  11. Will the debate be with Ms Collins herself, or with her eyebrows, I wonder.

    Not that it makes a lot of difference. When four billion dollars can be dismissed as “inconsequential” according to her whim, she’s sounding like mr trump again. ‘Facts’ are whatever she says they are, and they can change at any moment.

  12. Ok. I’ve just been over to TVNZ.
    I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.
    I’m going to stay in La La land then I’m going to vote for anyone and/or anything other than national/act/advance nu zillind etc etc etc. Honestly, I’d rather vote for a wilting plant in a pot before I voted national/act/advance nu zillind etc etc etc. All those head-bump hey-ho’s give me the fucking willies.
    I’m off for a shower…

  13. Watching the debate tonight Jacinda should have carried on at the first time she mentioned the words Climate change” as we saw Judith looked stunned, as she knew she had no policy other than more electric cars but that will be jacindas claim to ram through her strong position on Climate change.

    • Political comment on Collin…

      “Collins came out with nothing to lose: swinging, heckling, interrupting and taking the fight to the Labour leader. In response, Ardern largely stuck to her talking points, emoted and generally reflected Labour’s risk-averse campaign.”

      “Swinging, heckling and interrupting” true leadership qualities! No wonder the world adores Jacinda Ardern.
      Several times Collins resembled Muldoon and her tax policy matched. Healthy homes she’s not interested in only bad tenants. A horrid, horrid women Collins is. I can only conclude that her leadership through Covid would have resulted in hundreds if not thousands of deaths.

      • Yeah she did have flashes of Muldoon, and reading between the lines she demonstrated an ‘up yours’ attitude to tenants and indeed working people on several occasions. And it was all balanced towards landlords and employers which wasn’t hard to detect.

        She must certainly be kept out of power if we want to avoid a repeat of the very worst aspects of neo liberalism .

  14. For what my little opinion is worth I thought Jacinda’s body language was terrible. Too often slumped and twisted, her face contorted and her countenance tired and beaten. A bit like Helen Clarke in her last year.
    She needs some more energy, some vision for the future and shove something up Collins.
    Unless she suspects we are all well and truly fucked, governments have let down the people, who have become too reliant on government, the financial system is about to collapse and it will indeed be every person for themselves.

    • I think she simply looked tired, there’s a lot going on in the lead up to the election as well as contending with this pandemic. A real juggling act. I believe she’ll spring back. And I also believe Collins wont have a shits show of ever being PM.


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