I believe that Bill English is an honourable person who has worked as hard as he can for our country. As we enter the final week of a dramatic election campaign, the mood for change that is building in New Zealand is not because of any personal hostility to Mr English, but the feeling that after nine years, it is time for fresh energy and ideas to tackle New Zealand’s problems and unleash our full potential.
The contrast came through strongly in one of the televised debates between Mr English and Jacinda Ardern. During the debate Jacinda spoke passionately about her vision for New Zealand as a prosperous, socially-just country with housing for all and an end to child poverty. Instead of engaging in a debate about this, Mr English mocked Jacinda for talking about vision. His focus seemed to be just on the nuts and bolts of running the government accounts. Certainly, this is important, but it is not enough to lead our country.
What matters to people
Yes, we have solid economic growth, but what does this mean when we have homeless people on the streets and children living in poverty? What does it mean for young couples who are locked out of the dream of home ownership? For 75,000 young people not on work, education or training? For people who have been victimised by rising crime? What does it mean for our rivers which are so polluted they make people sick?
The current government shrugs these serious issues off as ‘problems of success’ but Labour doesn’t see it that way. We believe that the job of government is to relentlessly serve the interests of the people. To always be looking for new ways to solve our problems. To be constantly building on the strengths of our country and striving to leave the next generation better off.
When Jacinda Ardern became the Labour leader on August 1, she spoke about being “relentlessly positive” and I believe that this quality lies behind the huge momentum that has built up for a new Labour government. People do not want slanging matches between politicians, they want solutions. That is the focus of Labour and Jacinda.
We have focused on policies that will improve life for New Zealanders such as (a) Tackling the housing crisis by banning non-resident speculation and our Kiwibuild plan to deliver 100,000 affordable homes to first home buyers over ten years (b) Making people and communities safer by investing in 1000 frontline community police officers, more community patrols, and better support for victims of crime (c) Taking decisive action to fix Auckland’s traffic congestion by building a twenty first century public transport network starting with light rail to the airport and (d) Investing in our young people by providing one free year of tertiary education, and our ‘dole for apprenticeship’ scheme to get unemployed young people into meaningful work so that they can build their skills and their pride.
Towards better New Zealand
New Zealand is the best country in the world, and with a forward looking new Labour government we can be even better. With new ideas and energy, we can start to solve the problems we face and build a country in which all people can lead good lives and reach their full potential.
And with Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister, we will be able to face the future with confidence, knowing that we have a leader of vision and integrity.
This election you have the power to help build a better and fairer New Zealand. You can vote for a Labour government that will work for the many, not the few. You can choose a new generation of leadership who are ready to face the challenges of the future. You can vote for change.
This election, party vote Labour. Let’s do this.
Michael Wood is an elected Member of Parliament from Mt Roskill and Labour Party’s Spokesperson for Transport, Ethnic Communities, Consumer Affairs and Revenue.