The final poll of New Zealand’s election campaign has Jacinda Ardern’s Labour on track to win as the opposition National party remains preoccupied with a Greens policy.
Kiwis are set to hand Ms Ardern a second term as prime minister in Saturday’s election according to a TVNZ poll released on Thursday night.
The Colmar Brunton poll has Labour on 46 per cent (down one), with National well behind on 31 per cent (down one).
Replicated in parliamentary seats, Labour would win 59 of the 120-seat parliament, meaning they would turn to existing governing partners the Greens for support.
The Greens and right-wing minority party ACT both scored eight per cent in the poll.
The Greens are the big movers in the poll, up from six per cent, and well clear of the five per cent threshold parties need to secure to win seats.
New Zealand First, polled three per cent, which if replicated on polling day would see the end of Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ political career after four decades.
The Greens appear to have benefitted from a relentless focus from the Nationals on one of their core policies; a wealth tax.
The proposed tax would hit Kiwis with an individual wealth of more than $NZ1 million ($A929,100) – around six per cent of the population – asking them to pay one per cent of their wealth above that mark each year.
Opposition leader Judith Collins has screamed black and blue that Labour will adopt the policy.
“Labour have already promised to raise income taxes, but the wealth tax will be a point of pride for a Labour-Green government desperate to raise revenues to pay off its spending,” Ms Collins said.
“Having sprayed money at short term solutions to the economic crisis, their wealth tax will be a way to pay off the debts they have racked up.
“National believes there is a better way to get our economy back.”
Like many countries, New Zealand has engaged in massive stimulus spending to support citizens through the COVID-19 crisis, ruining its budgetary surplus.
Ms Ardern’s response has been to propose a modest income tax hike on the top-earning two per cent.
The Labour leader repeatedly said the wealth tax would be a non-starter, claiming to have ruled it out “around 50 times”.
National’s tactic will be familiar to Australian politics-watchers, who have seen Liberal parties at state and federal levels tie the Australian Labor Party to the Greens in the hope of winning over undecided moderate voters.
Ms Collins’ scare campaign has been given fuel by the Greens themselves, who want to use the wealth tax to alleviate poverty.
“We’re going to put it up for discussion (and) we will continue to talk about why the wealth tax is important,” co-leader James Shaw said.
“Let’s have an election and let’s sit around the negotiating table and see what happens.”
Ms Ardern insists it’s a non-starter.
“I’ve ruled it out because in our view … now is not the time for experimental tax policy,” she said.
More than half of the total enrolled Kiwis, or 1.5 million people, have already cast their ballots as advance votes.