LIVE: Jacinda Ardern vs. Judith Collins, First Debate

firstjajcdebatefeatureTonight, The Civilian will be live-blogging the first of too many debates between Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and National Party leader Judith Collins, and also the last fifteen minutes of the news. Be sure to tune in from 6:45pm for regular updates, which can be accessed by refreshing this page aggressively, allowing us to wildly inflate our readership metrics.

You can also follow this live-blog in tweet form by following us at https://twitter.com/TheCivilianNZ

8:24pm: The debate is over, and after a long hour and a half, we will finally find out from an expert panel what we saw.

8:21pm: Jacinda Ardern prefaces her closing statement with a series of remarks about how she is exploring a “wide range of options” for what her closing statement may or may not be, examining how and in what ways she might best address the closing of the debate. The buzzer has gone five times now.

8:19pm: Judith Collins spends her closing statement staring intensely in the camera in silence, as though she’s looking directly into my… Our country is in the midst of the biggest economic challenge in 160 years. With a recession looming, large budget deficits, extensive job losses, and the threat of continued hardship, Kiwis need a team with real world experience that can deliver results. And that’s National.

8:13pm: Silence as we return from the break. Camera pans down to show John Campbell, fast asleep on the floor, clipboard clutched like a teddy bear, mumbling “Oh boy, how do we do it?” over and over.

8:04pm: The content of Campbell’s clipboard, growing now dangerously large, flash on screen. Just says in size 40 font, “How the HELL do we get this right?”

7:59pm: During the break, producers scramble to set up foam mats around Campbell before he topples over. There have been several close calls already.

7:57pm: Ardern and Collins spent a several minute exchange rubbing in the fact that they’ve both lived in many homes.

7:51pm: Ardern says she’s “tried for three elections” to get a capital gains tax but ultimately couldn’t get past Jacinda Ardern.

7:41pm: “These issues are just so important, aren’t they?” beams Campbell, nearly toppling sideways as he sways back and forth between questions. He looks straight at the camera. “What’s your favourite part so far?” A silence follows. “That’s fantastic.”

7:37pm: Asked what she would do with an extra $50, Collins says she’d “buy a new dishwasher or something.”

7:31pm: During break, producers have provided Campbell with a new, smaller clipboard.

7:29pm: EXCLUSIVE: Entire first page of Collins’ debate notes read “Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern Miss Ardern”

7:24pm: Just before break, Campbell warns Ardern & Collins that his clipboard gets slightly larger every time they tell a lie.

7:21pm: Judith Collins promises second harbour crossing by 2028, which she says should be “just in time” to get many of tonight’s commuters home.

7:20pm: Ardern begins next answer by attempting to finish first preamble. Leaves self very little room to get in second preamble.

7:18pm: Ardern runs over buzzer halfway through preamble to her answer.

7:13pm: In attempting to wind up the first segment, John Campbell accidentally winds up in passionate discussion with himself about what curtains to put in the guest room.

7:06pm: Advance NZ registrations soar tonight as Jacinda Ardern lays out vision of “stamp-it-out regime.”

7:03pm: Instead of the expected blue, Judith Collins has chosen to wear black tonight, either as an attempt to dissociate herself from National, or as necessary part of supernatural Faustian bargain.

7:00pm: “We would have had a live audience tonight, but Covid-19 took care of that” – Campbell informs viewers that the debate’s audience have died of Covid.

6:58pm: John Campbell pupil status: small. Indicative of non-alcoholic sobriety, at least in promotional material.

6:55pm: And now the climax of the news, the weather, with TVNZ’s resident chirpy gravekeeper.

6:51pm: Tonight’s podiums are roughly 0.55 John Campbells tall.

6:49pm: Still sport.

6:46pm: Currently sport. Not sure what we expected.