Log In

Reset Password

Labour’s leader needs popularity boost to really challenge Nats

Opinion Piece

The government-in-waiting, the Labour-Greens recently-announced alliance, would have been encouraged by a small bump in the latest opinion poll but there is a long way to go before they have sufficient support to really challenge National.

Labour was up 1 point to 29 percent and the Greens rose by 2 to 12 percent, while National dipped 2 points to 48 percent.

The 30 percent mark is seen as the minimum level at which a party could realistically hope to lead a coalition government. Labour is close, but it also needs a big lift in support for its leader.

Andrew Little and John Key have not moved as preferred prime minister, at 7 percent and 38 percent respectively, while Winston Peters has risen by 2 points to 12 percent.

All of this makes it interesting that Little chose in his first post-alliance speech to focus on the issue of work visas, calling for a cutback. At a time when the economy was slowing and unemployment was rising, it did not make sense he said to issue 38,000 this financial year — up from 33,000 the previous one.

Prime Minister John Key does not accept this, saying that it is not as easy to get a work visa as people think and the country is short of skilled workers.

It was interesting also to see Minister of Finance Bill English say overall immigration had probably reached a peak of between 60,000 and 70,000, and that Treasury says it will drop to 12,000 within three years.

That alone would take a fair degree of heat out of the booming Auckland housing market, but probably with only limited impact before next year’s election.

The Labour-Greens coalition has to fish around for issues on which it can make ground, and is trying to do so on this occasion while steering well clear of the appeals to xenophobia of New Zealand First and Peters — who this week called for a cap of 7000-15,000 “seriously qualified” migrants, who should be interviewed regarding their suitability before entering New Zealand.

Work visas will not be a silver bullet on their own for Labour, but at least they mark a start.