2023 live election: NDP’s Christopher Luxon announces new electric car policy, Labor unveils economic plan

Christopher Luxon revealed that National promises to manufacture 10,000 electric car chargers, which is 10 times more than there are currently.

Luxon is campaigning in Christchurch and his time in the Garden City has included a stop at a Rollickin Gelato where the staff challenged him to scoop as many ice creams as he could in one minute.

Luxon said National will invest $257 million over four years to build the chargers, reviving the “very successful” ultra-high-speed broadband (UFB) financing model for delivering the chargers.

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Luxon also reiterated the National’s promise to scrap Labour’s “ute tax”, a clean car rebate that subsidizes the purchase of electric cars by taxing polluting cars. This policy has succeeded in increasing the popularity of electric vehicles, but the tax component has been unpopular.

Meanwhile, Labor leader Chris Hepkins revealed how his party plans to grow the economy if re-elected, promising to lead a ministerial trade delegation to India within his first 100 days in office.

While presenting his party’s economic strategy today at the University of Auckland, Hipkins said that India would be a priority in the coming period.

“After concluding trade agreements with the UK and the EU this year, my next priority will be to lead a ministerial delegation to India within the first 100 days of the formation of a new government,” he said. Hepkins met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Papua New Guinea earlier this year, where Modi invited Hepkins to visit India.

The announcement came along with a five-point economic growth plan and a pledge of $100 million in public money to the state venture capital fund to invest in agricultural technology.

The end of the campaign on Tuesday

There were kids, cake, and snipe at Chris Hipkins’ campaign birthday party in Wainuiomata on Tuesday.

The Labor leader was abroad, visiting schools in the area as the campaign began to heat up.

Hipkins started the day at Arracura Primary School, where he was scheduled to speak about the free lunch on the school program but before he could speak, he was given a free lunch of his own – a cake for his 45th birthday. The cake was presented by the school and they all sang happy birthday to him.

“Can you guess what I wished for?” he joked.

After blowing out the candles and fulfilling the wish (but not uttered as Hepkins later said, it won’t come true if you tell people) Hepkins talks about the importance of the program.

“Seeing it go from being an idea to what it is now is amazing,” he told Headmaster Siletut (Tot) Mela.

All the children sat and ate their lunches together, Mila said, meaning the program was more valuable than just the free food.

“For us, the lunch program is more than just food. They learn conversation, they learn table manners.”

After morning tea, Hepkins made his way to Wainuiomata High School to see progress on rebuilding the leaky building with $24 million in government funding.

Labor Leader Chris Hepkin and Hot South MP Jenny Andersen visit Wainuiomata High School.  Photography/Mark Mitchell
Labor Leader Chris Hepkin and Hot South MP Jenny Andersen visit Wainuiomata High School. Photography/Mark Mitchell

At a press conference at the school, Hepkins recalled having used his first sledgehammer on the job in 2018.

“Luckily, I chose a nice soft spot on the wall to really make an impact,” he laughed.

The conversation shifted from construction to controversial ads.

On Monday, the prime minister and opposition leader Christopher Luxon were at odds over an attack ad on the newspaper’s front page. NZ Herald.

The ad, drawn up by the Council of Trade Unions, read, “Christopher Luxon: Far from reality. There’s a lot of risk” – with a black and white photo of Luxon looking sullen.

The National said the move showed Labor’s plunge into “the most negative campaign in history”.

Illustration / Rod Emerson
Illustration / Rod Emerson

“The Labor-allied Council of Trade Unions has launched nasty American-style attack ads on National to help their colleague Chris Hepkins and his increasingly desperate Labor Party,” said Chris Bishop, National’s campaign chair.

“‘Be nice’ really became ‘be bad’ under Chris Hipkins and his fellow union elite.”

Hipkins responded saying he wished to acknowledge Bishop’s dedication to a “relentlessly positive campaign” by bringing a selection of offensive print ads against him and his Labor colleagues – some of which were straight from Bishop’s own Facebook page.

“This person says it’s all over,” Hipkins said, holding the ad, his face adorned aloft.

Labor leader Chris Hipkins displays more attack ads, posted online by Chris Bishop of the National.  Photography/Mark Mitchell
Labor leader Chris Hipkins displays more attack ads, posted online by Chris Bishop of the National. Photography/Mark Mitchell

“Another said that even an eight-year-old knows better than Hipkins – I’m glad they don’t take it personally and stand by it.”

While Hipkins was making school visits, National Party leader Chris Luxon was at the Basin Reserve with Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis to announce plans to expedite construction of a second tunnel at Mount Victoria.

Bishop was asked about negative advertising and his dedication to a clean campaign.

“There have been negative campaigns in the past but at the start of the six weeks to get full frontal ads out of the trade union movement which is an ally of Labor no matter what they say, we all know attacking the NDP leader personally is not a great way to start a campaign, but they made up their mind.”

He said he had not seen the ads that Hopkins had shown, although they were posted on his Facebook account.

“I post all kinds of things, as you well know.”

Despite the sniping, Bishop said he was more interested in the National’s tunnel announcement and what it meant for Wellington – as it was for Luxon.

“As we know very well in Wellington, this is also a major traffic choke point,” Luxon told the media.

He confirmed that the second tunnel and Basin Reserve modernization, estimated to cost around $2.2 billion, would be given priority.

National leader Christopher Luxon, flanked by finance spokeswoman Nicola Willis and transport spokesman Chris Bishop, announced that the Nationals-led government would build a second tunnel at Mount Victoria in their first term.  Photography/Mark Mitchell
National leader Christopher Luxon, flanked by finance spokeswoman Nicola Willis and transport spokesman Chris Bishop, announced that the Nationals-led government would build a second tunnel at Mount Victoria in their first term. Photography/Mark Mitchell

He said they would classify the construction of another tunnel as a major infrastructure project, meaning they would be able to get approval and build “before the end of our first term”.

“We are very excited about this because we know it will make a huge difference in the daily lives of Wellingtonians,” he said.

The tunnel will provide two lanes for traffic heading towards the airport. The two lanes of the existing tunnel will provide a route into the city.

Vita Molino is a Wellington-based journalist covering breaking news and stories from the capital. She has been working as a journalist since 2018 and joined the Herald in 2021.

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