I think it's fairly inevitable that the Nats will win the next election, failing some sort of amazing stuffup, like John Key flying off to Langley in election week to collect his updated CIA instructions.
However, this needn't be the case. Labour's excessive caution has given average NZ voters a fairly small set of reasons to vote for them. Where they have let go a little (interest-free student loans, 4 weeks holiday) it's been a win for them (the former probably gave them that little push over the line at the last election). What they need to do is a whole lot more like that - policies friendly to the average worker that will drive a wedge with the Nats and enable Labour to paint them effectively as the rich peoples party.
1. Zero tax for average families. We actually have this now - if you get Working for Families credits you pay no *net* tax up to just under average earnings. But because they can't be linked, people don't see this. I'd provide an option for anyone in that position to opt for either the current system, or to have no tax and a reduced tax credit.
2. Zero tax for average workers. This would maybe need to be phased, but I'd bring in a personal allowance that would take an increasing set of workers out of tax.
3. Free lifetime education. We should phase out tuition fees and introduce free education for everybody. This would be both degree level for those qualifying and also any other level, so if a 40-year old wanted to retrain for a new career, they would have the benefit of free tuition. Equally, those who have run up existing student loans would get their tuition components credited back.
4. Five weeks annual leave at a time of the workers choosing. Compulsory leave and compulsory work weeks would be banned. This would need to be phased in over a few years to avoid a sudden business impact.
5. Make the very rich pay their share of taxes. I'd introduce a 50% income tax rate on salaries over $200k and a capital gains tax on assets of $1mln. This would have zero effect on ordinary people, would raise a bit of useful revenue and would take the top off the property market, making houses more affordable for ordinary Kiwis.
This would all make the Nats and ACT spin out and blow steam from their nostrils. Good. The more they froth, the more people would realise that they are batting for the guy with the Porsche and the Omaha beach house, not for them. Especially when they start moaning that they can't spend more than $120k on campaigning.
But it won't happen, sadly.