When I left New Zealand First in May, it was not – until today – because of anything to with the (potential)Members of Parliament. Nor does it have anything to do with the policy platform. It was because I had been honest with myself and drawn the conclusion that I am probably more of a Labour supporter than a New Zealand First one. And although the numbers in the polls suggest a National victory of sorts, it is probably more true that National could only govern with support from New Zealand First.
On principle Winston Peters is correct that no one should talk about coalition partners until after the votes have been counted. This is why, at the same time, I find more than a little bit bothersome that before Parliament has been dissolved for the election campaign period, the pundits believe a fourth term has been sown up by Mr Peters.
I am a left-leaning moderate. I cannot stomach National having another term in office in any form, and I believe that New Zealand will suffer – should that happen – damage that cannot be repaired.
For me having a social safety net underlying New Zealand society is essential. It is not so much the big expenditure item National has tried to make it out to be, as a necessary investment in the well being of this nation. Whilst I expect that people sound of mind and fitness would seek work, I expect that for their honest efforts, when they cannot there is assistance for them whilst they get into a situation where they can return to the workforce. Ministry of Social Development seems to frown on these people and do not because of that suspicion enjoy a good relationship with many of them.
I understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but I expect that within limits there be such a thing as an “affordable lunch”. Thus with tertiary education I support undergraduate education being free and the reintroduction of an Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students that adjusts for inflation. Further investment needs to be made both into science and the arts to restore their research capabilities for what will be challenging times ahead for New Zealand.
And then there is health. I never did establish, which I was hoping would happen when National was elected, if District Health Boards really were the expensive blight that National had claimed when the Government of Helen Clark was elected in 1999. Whatever the case, some of the funding issues can be relieved if New Zealand requires visitors to New Zealand to have medical insurance. Funding Keytruda for cancer patients and legalizing medical marijuana for other painful conditions should be a priority.
We have too many problems that this National-led Government are stubbornly refusing to address. I have mentioned a few above. A fourth term National-led Government knowing that no peace time Government has ever had a fifth term (the Labour Government of Michael Joseph Savage-Peter Fraser was born before World War 2, where Governments of allied nations tended to survive because their nation needed political stability whilst such a threat as the Axis Powers posed, existed), would be bent on leaving a legacy. For all his reputation, and for all his ability to hold politicians to account, I am not even sure Mr Peters could keep this Government in check.
That is not good enough for me. We need to address the housing, the violent crimes, the mental health problems and the decline in environmental standards now. We cannot wait another three years to see if National will get its head out of the sands – it might be too late by then. The recent announcements of more housing, plans for tackling the toxicity of tyre dumps and so on are just desperate attempts by Ministers who have squandered their time in office to make something of a worthwhile legacy to be able to say, “I did this, this and this”.
Where I probably more support New Zealand First is on defence, justice and and foreign policy. Labour had been fine on foreign policy before it became a market oriented party like National.
But I made a decision that I needed to help get rid of this National-led Government back in May. I think the Todd Barclay scandal has given impetus to a change of Government being necessary and that this will be the catalyst for people believing that third term-itis has taken a fatal hold in the Government of Prime Minister Bill English.
In the short term, I am going to focus on Labour’s policy platform, familiarizing myself with it and trying to find out how Labour came to these policies. In the mid-term (after the election, when we know what the outcome has been) I will decide whether or not to join the party, like I did New Zealand First and whether or not I think I can be of use.
And so there you have it.