David Parker believes poor poll numbers because people are 'over COVID' - Simon Bridges says it's performance

The AM Show 12/11/2021

WATCH: This morning Labour Minister David Parker and National's Simon Bridges debate the latest poll numbers putting Labour further down but not having much of an effect on National's numbers either.

Two polls recently have put Labour down significantly in the publics eye, polling around 41% and even as low as 39% - the lowest they have been since the start of COVID.

Jacinda Ardern as preferred PM drops to 47% too - which is still miles ahead of any other potential candidate, but still a 4% drop on her last months results, and nearly 20 points since 2020.

"I think everyone's over COVID," Labour MP David Parker told The AM Show on Friday.

"They know that we're in a transition from border protection to vaccine protection, caused by Delta, but it's hard. I think that's essentially what's behind it. I think things will bounce back a bit once we're through this stage of this transition from border protection to vaccine protection. It's going well." 

The mood has been contentious in Auckland and wider as restrictions have been in place for 87 days and are slow to be eased.

"Some people say we're going too fast, other people say we're going too slow," said Parker, suggesting it's difficult to tell what's behind Labour's polling slide - and defending the Government's handling of the outbreak. 

"The death rate in New Zealand's the lowest in the OECD. At a similar stage in the NSW and Victoria outbreaks, they had far higher rates of transmission than we've got in Auckland.

Comparing Outbreaks in Australia and NZ show that along the same time-line we have managed to keep our daily cases down, both NSW & Victoria reporting around 1000 cases per day around the 87 day mark.

"We're on that transition that the Delta virus makes necessary," said Parker. "We're opening up in Auckland, we've got retail going again, more kids going back to school in the next couple of weeks. The signal's been given about opening up Auckland for Christmas so people can have a good Christmas and get back to more normality and more of their freedoms back, but it's hard."

Though Simon Bridges agreed that COVID has played it's part in peoples perception of the government, this time in a negative light, what it really does is expose "what's underneath" during these turbulent times.

"I think it's a Government people have always had a residual worry about, certainly in the last term, and we're starting to see it again in those right/wrong numbers. They talk a big game - there's those big announcements, there's the 'podium of truth', but under that the delivery just isn't there.

"If you take COVID, that's the biggest example of that. The results, what's trying to be achieved, it's falling apart… The Government can't chew gum and walk at the same time." 

Though Labour have taken some big hits, National's needle hasn't had the countering jump upwards they are needing to be taken more seriously as a contenting opposition come 2023. Both polls place them at 26% , between 2 and 4 pints of upwards movement.

Bridges says they are still not looking to replace National Leader Judith Collins.

"I don't think that's the right analysis. I think we've gone up a bit. In the end though, we're a couple of years from an election… it's about whether the picture voters have right now of the Government is one that sticks. That's the question. 

"Will David's thesis that it's all going to come right over summer - everyone's going to be happy because they're going to be able to have some fun in the sun - come true? Or will people still feel very frustrated?"

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