More captivating than a reality TV show, this 2017 election is seriously OTT. No sooner had we got over the bizzare coincidence of three parties losing a leader in the run up to the campaign proper than a fourth leader was embroiled in a superannuation over-payment leak – Winston unusually finding himself the leakee. He won’t let this go quietly. Most concerning though is the avalanche of big spending election promises, and I’m sure they’re not finished yet. As a facebook friend posted a few days ago “Please let it be over, I can’t take any more election bribes”.
I’ve been an active participant in six election campaigns. My mind may be a bit hazy as exhaustion was a significant factor in most, but I really can’t remember previous campaigns being dominated by the extravagance and largesse of the current big spending promises by most political parties. Gareth Morgan, in his slightly clumsy, anti-politician way is actually refreshing when he tries to hold this spending to account and quite correct in my view when he says no party (other than his of course!) is looking at new solutions to old problems.
Over the last two weeks I’ve been wondering why this campaign is leaving such a bitter taste in my mouth. I was after all ‘one of them’, out there attempting to convince voters that I had policies worth supporting, policies that would make a difference to the health and wealth of all kiwis. I like to think that my party was fiscally responsible – we costed our policies and didn’t promise things that the taxpayer couldn’t afford. And this is my problem with the current situation.
Even after the Prefu (pre election economic and fiscal update) or opening of the books showed economic growth is likely to slow over the next 4 years the lolly scramble has continued. Free tertiary education, close to free healthcare for some, no GST on basic foods, billions of dollars for new four lane highways, trains here, there and everywhere, an air combat wing … the list goes on and on. What I want to hear is a plan for the economic growth of New Zealand – the one thing that will provide real and sustained relief for the less well off. Instead we have a policy here, spend ups and more taxes there. It all smacks of desperation – to stay in power or to be in power. And amidst it all is the arrogant assumption that the only sure way to win a vote is to bribe people – as if we are all so stupid we can’t see what is happening.
Well I’m a floating voter and I suspect there are more of us than usual this election. I’ll be voting for the party who can articulate a plan that provides incentives to let New Zealanders get on with their lives, that provides us with the platform to take care of themselves and our families. Surely one party at least can provide us with this? Handouts are demeaning and blanket handouts especially so. Lolly scrambles have a down side – after the sugar rush comes the glucose crash, which leaves everyone flat.