The election on November 8 will be fought on trust, Prime Minister Helen Clark said on Friday.
The long predicted date for an election was announced by Clark at a press conference where she outlined what issues she believed the campaign would be fought over.
“It is about which leader and which major party we New Zealanders trust our families’ and country’s future with.
“This election is a tough choice between a Government which has shown it can make the tough choices and an Opposition which flip flops on almost every major issue that emerges.”
Clark said Labour delivered on its promises and accused National of being evasive and dishonest
“You can not attack core Labour policies, which have made such a difference for Kiwi families, with the vehemence the National Party has attacked them over a long period of time and then claim you have seen the light on the road to Damascus. That lacks sincerity.”
Behind National in the polls, Clark said she believed the gap would narrow as people concentrated on what sort of government was best for their families and communities.
Friday’s announcement follows the passage of the Government’s last major piece of legislation — setting up an emissions trading scheme.
The date allows enough time for Labour’s October 1 tax cuts to make an impact in the polls.
Clark said sustainability would be a major plank of Labour’s campaign, but it would also roll out major health, education, housing and economic policies over the next few weeks.
Most around Parliament had been predicting November 8 as the most likely, Clark confirmed she had been planning on that as election day for some time.
She also said some time ago that today had been kept free in her diary for sometime as the intended day of announcement.
The political storm swirling around New Zealand First leader Peters had not been a factor in setting the election date or the day of the announcement, Labour would focus on issues that mattered more to voters, she said.
Clark said apart from ruling out post-election deals with National and ACT, she would not be “disrespectful to voters” and rule out working with any other party.
Parliament would run through the sitting week starting September 23.
“Whether it would go any longer is obviously an option, but I think probably people will be itching to get out and get on the campaign trail.”
Political parties of all hues welcomed the announcement.
ACT leader Rodney Hide said election day couldn’t come soon enough.
“Kiwis are sick of Helen Clark’s ‘Nanny-Knows-Best’.”
Clark’s reluctance to sack Peters over the donations saga had shown the Government was unprincipled, he said.
“It’s time to dump the Clark-Peters Government. It’s time for a change.”
Following the dissolution of Parliament writ day will be October 8 and October 14 will be nomination day.
After the election Parliament must reconvene within 92 days of writ day. That date is January 8.