Small armies of enthusiastic volunteers equipped with timber, power tools and political hoardings descended on east Auckland on Saturday to mark the start of the campaign for this year’s general election.
Candidates campaigning for Parliament at the election, scheduled to be held on October 14, are legally allowed to erect their hoardings from midnight on the day that’s nine weeks out from polling day.
Botany MP and National Party leader Christopher Luxon teamed up with his father, Graham Luxon, and a group of helpers to erect a campaign hoarding outside Paradice Ice Skating on the busy corner of Ti Rakau Drive and Botany Road.
Luxon told the news media his team had put up 200 hoardings that day and the plan was to erect a total of 220 across Botany.
“We have two months to go until the election.
“I think the choice is a very stark one between the ‘coalition of chaos’, or a strong, stable National Government that can rebuild our economy, lower the cost of living, deliver better health and education, and importantly, restore law and order in New Zealand.
“We’re excited about the campaign. It’s been awesome to be out here in Botany with our team who are doing a great job getting signs up and around the country and certainly across our electorate.”
Luxon was asked a number of questions by the news media, including about a South Island hospital’s emergency department, which has closed its doors at certain times due to a chronic staffing shortage.
He said it’s a “huge concern” and “what we’ve seen across the country is every health metric has gone backward”.
“A big part of that is we don’t have the workforce to create doctors and nurses in regional hospitals in particular.
“That’s why National wants to open a third medical school with a particular focus on regional hospitals and community centres where the training would take place.
“Our belief is we would attract doctors and nurses into those areas, where they would stay.”
Luxon was asked about reports some candidates had erected their campaign hoardings just prior to the legally-allowed midnight start time.
He said: “We had a lot of people out and about last night getting ready to go over midnight and into the early hours of this morning.
“We’ve had a lot more teams up and about today and that’s fantastic.
“We have a great country but we are heading in the wrong direction.
“New Zealanders know it. They understand it, and what they need is a strong, stable, National-led Government and that’s what they’re going to get on October 14.”