Election Live 2017; English votes in Wellington before bus tour to Auckland; National leads in polls


Police reported a man set himself on fire in the grounds outside Parliament this afternoon and is in a critical condition at the scene. Bernard Hickey reports from the campaign trail.

"Police are assisting fire and ambulance at Parliament grounds where a man has reportedly set himself on fire," police said in a statement shortly after 4pm this afternoon.

"Ambulance are with the man currently, who's reportedly in a critical condition," police said.

Reporters and others have been blocked from viewing the scene. RNZ and Stuff reporters at the scene have reported the man appeared to be a lone protestor with placards lying beside him on the ground.

We will provide more details as they come to hand.

English votes in Wellington

Bill English has voted this morning in Wellington before jumping on a National bus to drive up to Auckland. Meanwhile, there are just two days of campaigning to go and the final public poll will be released tonight. Bernard Hickey reports from the campaign trail.

If the results of Newshub's Reid Research poll due at 6pm are anything like the same poll taken a week ago then National will be confirmed as having re-taken poll position at the last minute in a race to a coronation, possibly by either New Zealand First or the Maori Party.

Last night TVNZ's Colmar Brunton poll showed National has surged back into a nine point lead over Labour. The poll taken between Saturday and Tuesday found support for National rose six percentage points to 46 percent in the last week, while support for Labour fell seven points to 37 percent.

Green support rose one point to eight percent and New Zealand First fell one point to 4.9 percent. The Opportunities Party edged up to 2.3 percent, its best result of the campaign. The Maori Party was at 0.5 percent and the ACT Party at 0.3 percent.

Jacinda Ardern's standing as preferred Prime Minister fell three points to 31 percent, while Bill English rose five points to 37 percent.

The Colmar Brunton poll is now more in line in with Reid Research's poll published last week, which showed National on 47.3 percent and Labour on 37.8 percent. The Reid Research poll also found New Zealand First at six percent and the Green Party at 4.9 percent. TOP was at 0.3 percent, the Maori Party was at 1.1 percent and ACT at 0.6 percent. The final Reid Research poll is expected to be released on Newshub tonight at 6pm on TV3.

Tax attack working

The latest poll showed National's concerted attacks on Labour's plans for 'seven new taxes' appears to have borne fruit over the last couple of weeks, wrestling momentum away from Labour and blunting the 'Jacinda Effect'.

Her decision last week to reverse her 'captain's call' to leave open the possibility of a capital gains tax (excluding the family home) in Labour's first term was a tacit acknowledgement it was hurting Labour's support among home owners and small business owners. National's suggestion it would become an inheritance tax and questions about how small businesses built off the family home were enough to worry many. Labour will have seen the reaction in its own private polling and focus-grouping.

National's push in the regions to portray Labour's water royalty as a dangerous new tax that 'picked on' farmers appears to have served a double purpose of reinforcing Labour's tax plans to urban voters and pulling back conservative regional voters who may have been thinking of voting for New Zealand First.

National's surge this week has come partly at the expense of support for New Zealand First, although Labour's momentum has clearly stalled. The Colmar Brunton poll showed the Greens bouncing out of the danger zone at five percent, although it's worth noting that the polls have tended to over-estimate Green support by a couple of percentage points and under-estimate New Zealand First support by a similar amount.

If last night's results were replicated on election night then a variety of permutations of new Government are possible. A National-Maori-ACT Government is theoretically possible if the Greens don't make it into Parliament, given the redistribution of Green and TOP votes.

A Labour-Green-Maori Government is possible if New Zealand First fail to make it back into Parliament. A Labour-New Zealand First Government is possible, although less likely than it seemed a couple of weeks ago. A National-New Zealand First combination now looks the most likely if these poll results are replicated on Saturday. There remains a possibility National could govern alone if New Zealand First and Green were both to fall under the threshold, which would see more than 10 percent of the vote that is wasted redistributed to the main parties.

Key variables to watch

The key variables remain whether the Greens make it back in, whether New Zealand First again outperforms its polls, whether New Zealand First make it back in, the size of the wasted TOP vote and how many Maori Party MPs will make it into Parliament.

The number of variables is large enough and the swings in the polls in recent weeks have been wild enough that confidently predicting a particular flavour of Government is a fool's errand.

We'll all be up late on Saturday night glued to the Election Results pages.

Coming up...

Bill English will visit Johnsonville, Paraparaumu and Whanganui today before arriving in Taupo on National's final bus trip up the North Island to Auckland.

Jacinda Ardern will visit workers and students in Christchurch this morning before flying back for events in Wellington at Lyall Bay and Wainuiomata this afternoon and this evening.

Winston Peters will hold a rally on the Auckland waterfront around midday today.

James Shaw is holding campaign events in Auckland this afternoon.

Campaigning has to stop tomorrow night before Saturday's election.