Monday, November 3, 2008

TV3 Leaders Debate in New Zealand General Election

The Christchurch Press is calling the Labour and National Party leaders debate on TV3 on 3 November "an honourable draw" here.

TV3's Campbell Live video archive here provides the debate in its entirety - in parts - with a post-debate panel discussion.

Labour leader Helen Clark said afterwards she thought she'd rattled National leader John Key. For his part, Key said the debate was scrappy at times, but both leaders had a fair hearing and he wouldn't declare a winner.

Moderator John Campbell challenged both leaders to be specific in terms of policies that would turn around long run economic decline and bolster future economic development. Both leaders were confronted with their "fatalism", for focusing solely on "ambulances at the bottom of the cliff" such as emergency unemployment benefits as the global financial crisis bites.

As Campbell pointed out, both leaders tried to claim credit for the least popular piece of legislation in recent times, the Anti-Smacking Act which bars parents from smacking their children other than "inconsequential" smacking.

Campbell suggested to Clark that she is coming near to the end of her natural life as a prime minister but saved some heat for Key asserting his National front bench leadership was "as fresh as a seven-day-old snapper".

Clark struck her strongest blows against Key when she highlighted National's lack of connection to & support of the Pasifika community in South Auckland. Labour is hoping to turn out the Pacific Island vote in South Auckland on election day, a bedrock of Labour support when it turns out to vote.

Key landed his biggest blow when he talked of Labour's nanny state that was "storming through your front door" with new environmental regulations on lightbulbs and shower heads. (He should probably take a trip to Schwarzenegger California to get a good idea of his "nanny state" environmental regulation that is not just Democratic, but Republican. The reality is green is crossing ideological lines.)

On New Zealand - US relations, both leaders said they would work with either US presidential candidate, both who are "very talented". Clark commented on Obama being "the most gifted and charismatic" politician and Key noting "McCain is a good friend of New Zealand" but that Obama's election would truly be historic.

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