Friday, September 29, 2023

Kerre Woodham: Did last night's debate change anything for voters?

Last night's leaders' debate was vastly more entertaining than the first one.

Was it a debate? Well, Sister Philippa, my old debating coach at Sacred Heart Girls College, wouldn't have seen it as a debate per say. I think it was more of a bit of infotainment.

Chris Hipkins, the leader of Labour, showed up and heaven knows we love a politician who shows up. He no longer looked like a dead man walking like in the first debate. He looked like he didn't care, was over it, was going through the motions. Last night he looked more like someone who's woken up to the fact he needs to fight for his political skin.

Christopher Luxon got caught a few times on not specifically answering questions and resorting to slogans but seemed composed despite the increased intensity of the set to. And I think the quickness will come with more time in the House and the ability to be able to answer on your feet.

Paddy Gower got in a couple of zingers. When Christopher Luxon said he didn't know Winston Peters, Paddy Gower was quite right in saying it's Winston Peters, who doesn't know Winston Peters?!

So ultimately it was more energetic, more peppy. But did it change anything for you? Give you any information you didn't know before? Give you an insight into the leaders of the parties that you didn't have before last night?

Apparently, these sorts of debates help to get non-voters engaged and into the voting booths, but God help us if our election is decided by people who watch 90 minutes of television infotainment and base their votes on that.

Interesting though, that in both debates policies seem to be made-up on the fly by both leaders. We're banning fizzy drinks in secondary schools in the first debate -that seemed to come out of nowhere. I mean well. Fizzy drinks are banned in primary schools, but Chris Hipkins was like right, we're going to ban them in secondary schools as well.

Both leaders said they would lower the age for bowel cancer screening in this last night's debate, which you know, both worthwhile. Don't get me wrong, both worthwhile. But I do find it a wee bit alarming that politicians can just whip a policy out of their kerchief pocket without Select Committee, consultation and the like, as infotainment.

Fine. I can't imagine the sort of people that I talk to on a daily basis on this show, I can't imagine people thinking, uh, you know what, because of that zingy one liner or because they looked more energetic, I'm going to change my vote from National to Labour or Labour to National. I just can't see that happening.

It may have confirmed people's decisions to look at the minor parties. They might have looked at both leaders and thought ‘I need more than this.’

Kerre McIvor, is a journalist, radio presenter, author and columnist. Currently hosts the Kerre Woodham mornings show on Newstalk ZB - where this article was sourced

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