This election will not be like any other. For the first time ever, the New Zealand voting populace are not happy with National or Labour winning the election and some quarters are starting to talk about what just 12-24 months ago might have been seen as unthinkable.
For the first time ever a New Zealand First victory is not off the cards – a victory in which the party not only decides who is in Government, but manages to get multiple significant ministerial portfolios.
This time the call for change is not exclusively along blue or red lines, that prefer to tinker around the edges. The people want real change, not for the few, but for the many. It depends on your interpretation of change. I see three options:
- For the status quo – if you think that constitutes change – vote National
- For piecemeal change that is done in baby steps, but has been thought about in cohesion with other policies vote Labour
- For significant policies that can be generally interconnected with others to create change that has meaningful effect even if there are teething issues – which happen with most large scale policy announcements – vote New Zealand First
Perhaps that will mean giving ones party vote to New Zealand First. However much that might repulse you, the only way the mainstream parties of National and Labour are going to get the message that people want meaningful change that does not just work for the privileged few, is to vote for New Zealand First.
So far the policies announced by Mr Peters have been quite exciting. He will give us a binding referendum on whether or not the Maori seats should continue to exist. He will give New Zealand a binding referendum on whether to reduce Parliament to 100 seats – a referendum in 1999 asked the same question, but was not binding despite 80% of votiers (myself included)voting in favour of a 99 seat Parliament.
In addition to these policies, the New Zealand First tertiary education policy was unveiled in 2016 at the party’s annual convention in Dunedin. Despite critics pointing out the expense, it should be noted the planned expenditure is only about $500 million more than the current expenditure on tertiary education.
This leaves me in an almighty quandary.
The New Zealand First policy platform, which drew me to the party in the first place, is in as fine condition as it has ever been.
The Members of Parliament that it currently has are not a bad bunch, inside and outside of Parliament. Hard working in their portfolio’s and for the most part (Brendan Horan aside)free of damaging controversy, they have contributed to the growth of the party.
So, why am I in a quandary? Three reasons really:
- Shane Jones. Although he was found to not have committed any wrong doing, to have him put in as a candidate when he has not spent any time in the party learning its inner mechanics, meeting the electorate members who put time and money into the party has many seeing foul
- The Board. A President who shuts down any contentious conversation, does not return phone calls or e-mails and ignores the agenda at convention by bypassing entire sections – is this who the party really wants running the show?
- Winston. I want to vote New Zealand First, but I cannot tolerate another three year of National being in the Beehive in any form. Mr Peters is well known for doing deals with the largest party where Parliament is hung, as we saw in 1996. This time I really want to see Labour in office.
I am not going to decide who to vote for until election day. It will depend on what happens in the next nine weeks and whether or not the candidates do anything daft.
Nine weeks to decide on a solution to my quandary.