At the start of each year governing political parties around the world sometimes give a State of the Nation type address in which they outline the progress of the nation as they see it. In America it is called the State of the Union, and is delivered by the incumbent President. In New Zealand it is the State of the Nation. The address looks at the issues perceived to confronting New Zealand, the good, the bad and occasionally the ugly.
You might therefore wonder why this is happening in late June. With Parliament just weeks away from dissolving in readiness for the 23 September 2017 General Election, I wanted to bring a sharp focus on the state of the country that 4.7 million people call home. I wanted to make you, the reader ask yourself the following:
- Who will gain from a fourth term National Government
- How will people gain from a fourth term National-led Government when the last 9 years have produced the track record it has in housing, mental health, crime, environmental issues among others
- Putting aside what has been said in Parliament and what shall continue to be said in the next several weeks as we go in election mode, are the Opposition parties really as bad as the media and the Government have made out
It is frustrating to be a New Zealander and watch my country elect half cooked Governments that are the result of a declining interest in politics and understanding of how our political system works. It is frustrating to see those half cooked M.P.’s then fail to see beyond the three year cycle and work for the good of the country, frustrating to see that successive Governments of both the left and the right have made policy announcements and said “this is the best we can do”, when what they really meant is “this is the best we are prepared to do”.
But there is a solution. I believe the answer is two pronged and involves a) automatic enrolment of all New Zealand citizens at age 18 into the electoral roll and b) making legal studies compulsory in Year 12 just as English is compulsory in Year 11.
There is so many facets of life and society that we can do better in than we currently are, no matter how good our vital socio-economic statistics might look compared to other nations. Domestic violence and criminal offending is probably the worst, but slumping rates on literacy, ability write and count are not helping. Nor is our worsening poverty, housing and deteriorating natural environment – we can brag all we like about being clean and green, but any person who saw the articles recently in the media about tyre dumps or has been following our fresh water quality issues shall know we need to do better.
Rather than give solutions, let me ask you a question.
What sort of New Zealand do you want your family/whanau to live in? What sort of New Zealand do you want your children/mokopuna to grow up in? A well known Maori proverb goes like this:
He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people
When I think about that proverb I think about the very question I asked you. The society I want my family to be in, any future children I have to grow up in, to be one where we have a society built on the principles of fairness and respect, tolerance and justice. I want it to be a society where people with mental health issues are not told to harden up. I want it to be a society where people can have homes that are affordable and warm and dry, not so expensive that what 25 years years ago would have brought a nice place in Remuera or maybe in Fendalton can barely buy an average now in Auckland. I want an environment where swimming in rivers again in the summer will be possible; where we make an honest effort to limit our environmental footprint and realize that recycling is not a greenie tree hugging thing to do: its common sense.
But I cannot see that happening with this National-led Government and so on 23 September 2017, I shall be voting to change the Government.