Luxon, Hipkins weigh in on union attack

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National has hit back after the Council of Trade Unions today launched a campaign slamming the party’s leader Christopher Luxon.

The NZCTU is an organisation that “brings together over 320,000 New Zealand union members in 27 affiliated unions”.

Today, it launched a campaign opposing the National Party ahead of this year’s general election, including a full-page ad on the front of the NZ Herald.

A website – outoftouch.nz – carries a number of ads from the union branding Luxon “out of touch” and “too much risk”, and encourages people to post them on social media.

“Christopher Luxon and National will take New Zealand backwards and working people will be the first to feel the pain,” NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff said.

“National’s plan under Christopher Luxon is short-sighted, it is not good economic management.

“October’s election is the most significant election for working people in a generation. It’s essential that going into this election, people understand what is at risk for not just working people, but all New Zealanders.”

‘Lies and negativity’

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions' ad opposing the National Party's leader Christopher Luxon.

Speaking to media this afternoon, Luxon was asked about the campaign.

“I just think it’s incredibly sad – and pathetic, to be honest,” he said. “I can take attacks for 41 days until the election result.

“What I’m worried about is Kiwis losing their homes, what I’m worried about is Kiwis not feeling safe in their businesses or their communities, what I’m worried about is not being able to access healthcare or get their kids educated.

“From a CTU point of view, they purport to support working people. I would’ve thought they wanted to come out in support of our tax plan last week,” Luxon said.

National's Christopher Luxon and Labour's Chris Hipkins

National’s campaign chair Chris Bishop also hit out at the NZCTU, drawing a link between their campaign and Labour leader Chris Hipkins – who Bishop said is “running the most negative election campaign seen in decades”.

He said the ads were “grubby” and a “nasty American-style” move.

“Serious questions need to be asked of Chris Hipkins about how much he knew of his union mates’ relentlessly negative and scurrilous campaign,” Bishop said. “It seems Hipkins will stop at nothing to cling to power.

“We do not want a personal, vindictive, attack-style campaign.

“It’s disgraceful, they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Asked if Luxon was “OK”, Bishop laughed: “He’s big enough and ugly enough to handle it, I just think it’s pretty pathetic.”

This afternoon, Labour’s Hipkins weighed in and said he hadn’t seen the advertisement before it was released.

“I think the CTU are raising some legitimate concerns around the effects of the National Party’s policies,” he added.

“The National Party and their surrogates – including the Taxpayer’s Union, Groundswell, Hobson’s Pledge and so on – have been running attack ads against me and against the Labour government since the day I took on the job.

“I haven’t called a press conference or issued a media statement every time that they have done that.”

Hipkins went on to produce a stack of printed-out ads opposing himself and the Labour Party.

“If Christopher Luxon and the National Party are going to do that every time someone critiques or criticises what they’re doing, I think they probably need to rethink whether or not they’re cut out to be in government.

“I think it’s incredibly thin-skinned,” he said.

‘Taking with one hand and giving with the other’

The stoush comes after the NZCTU’s Craig Renney discussed National’s tax policy on Breakfast last week.

Renney described the plan as “taking with one hand and giving with the other”, adding the numbers behind the policy were “a bit murky”.

Willis hit back later on the show.

“Can I just point out that Craig Renney, who you’ve just had on; his immediate prior job to the one he has now was advising Grant Robertson,” she said. “I think it’s important your viewers understand which corner he’s coming from.

“We’re confident that our modelling stacks up. It’s cautious, it’s conservative.”

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