Election 2017

Election 2017 Live: Ardern campaigns through bereavement

With just three full days left until the election, Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern stayed on the trail to talk to younger voters in Wellington despite the death of her grandmother late on Monday evening.

Ardern said during a campaign stop at a Newtown Medical Centre in Wellington early in the afternoon she would take time off from her campaigning on Friday to attend her grandmother's funeral.

She then went on to a rapturous reception at Victoria University where hundreds of students mobbed her in the main 'hub' open area in the University's Kelburn Campus.

She spoke for several minutes to the crowd about her time as a student at Victoria in a cold damp flat and the aspirations many young New Zealanders had for home-ownership. She urged them to vote for Labour and to 'pay it forward' for future generations.

Ardern then stayed on to talk to students and take countless selfies on a cold and damp day for over an hour.

Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson on the campaign trail at Victoria University. Photo by Lynn Grieveson

Jet fuel shortages worsen

The jet fuel shortage at Auckland Airport is affecting the travel schedules of the politicians and journalists using Auckland as their base for their final trips out into the regions. But it's also sparking renewed debate about the ability of Auckland's infrastructure to cope with growth and disruptions to its single pipeline of supply from the Marsden Point oil refinery.

Dozens of flights have been cancelled from both Auckland and Wellington as Air New Zealand is only able to get 30 percent of its jet fuel needs from Auckland. Jetstar cancelled 10 flights scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Refining New Zealand said last night that the broken fuel pipe near Ruakaka may not be repaired and the fuel available until between next Monday and next Wednesday.

The Government has called in military tankers, drivers and ships to help supply Auckland with petrol and diesel, but is not able to replace the jet fuel transported through the only line between the Marsden Point refinery and the Wiri oil services terminal near the Airport.

Fuel supplies for trucks and cars in Auckland remain in place, although Z Energy reported four of its service stations in Auckland had stopped supplying 95 octane fuel as it prioritised movements of 91 octane petrol and diesel, which 90 percent of vehicles can use.

The Government also confirmed it had asked government staff not to travel unless they absolutely had to.

Opposition MPs attacked the Government for its 2012 decision not to spend the $57 million recommended to build extra jet fuel tanks at Auckland Airport or to spend $15 million to build a second pipeline to the main line so as to avoid potential disruption from a Wiri terminal outage.

"I am worried that from cabinet papers in 2012 that vulnerability with our fuel supply was raised years ago," Ardern told reporters.

"Instead of looking into options to make sure we had resilience and the infrastructure we needed, instead a handbook and a technical working group was created. Obviously, that hasn't been sufficient, and now motorists and those who are trying to move around the country and exporters are paying the price," she said.

"Work should have been done to ensure we were more resilient than this. One pipeline and one digger and New Zealand grinds to a halt."

Asked if she would commit a Labour Government to a full second pipeline to Marsden Point, she said: "I think we need to look at options to build our resilience. Whether that's storage or additional pipelines, work clearly needed to be done."

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins said this afternoon the Government was actively supporting industry efforts to address the disruption.

She said weight restrictions have been lifted by 15 per cent for fuel tankers, along with removing restrictions on when fuel can be delivered to service stations and truck stops, allowing fuel tankers to use bus and transit lanes and extending the permissable driving hours where it was safe to do so.

Air New Zealand also announced it flew a wide-bodied 777-200 aircraft to Wellington from Auckland with just crew to pick up fuel in Wellington before a long-haul flight from Wellington.

It said this was partly due to declining supplies in the Pacific. In recent days, long haul flights have been stopping in Fiji and elsewhere to top up on fuel.

"We are switching to a different mode of operation whereby Wellington, supplemented by Australia and those Pacific destinations able to support fuel uplifts, will be used to source the extra fuel required to maintain scheduled services," said Air NZ's David Morgan.

English visits tractor repairers and chocolate makers

This morning, Bill English, with some media in tow made it to Blenheim, where he visited a tractor repairs firm, a cafe, a supermarket, a school and to spoke at a Marlborough Chamber of Commerce event. He then visited a chocolate factory and another supermarket.

He was interrupted at the cafe event by the local Labour candidate complaining about the removal of Labour billboards from near Blenheim's airport.

Speaking in the wake of angry protests about Labour's water royalties plan in Morrinsville yesterday, Ardern told Duncan Garner she was not surprised by the strength of feeling, although she noted most of those farmers did not irrigate and would not be affected.

She said only a small number of Waikato farmers would affected, given six to 16 percent of farms were irrigated and the royalty only applied to water used for irrigation.

We will be covering the events through the afternoon.

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