Election season brings the return of billboards, waving signs along Shore Road and other vantage points, cottage meetings, debates and plenty of media coverage.
This will be my fifth parliamentary election campaign. After a failed attempt to win Maungakiekie in 2005, during the Don Brash era, I entered Parliament on the List in 2011 and now campaign a fourth time for the all-important Party Vote in Epsom.
It is a huge privilege and heavy responsibility to represent the community in our House of Representatives. I know I have more to offer, and hope to have that chance.
Aside from the occasional gesture from someone leaning out the window of a passing car, which I choose to interpret as indicating one tick for National or occasionally two ticks if two digits are used, campaigning is fun and generally good natured.
But there is an underlying tension because a lot is a stake.
This election is an extreme case, given the generation-defining spending taking place and the weight of the decisions being made.
Driving past our signs, you’ll see Strong Team, More Jobs, Better Economy.
Regarding the strong team: our country is in the midst of the biggest economic challenge in many generations. During a deep recession, with large budget deficits and extensive job losses, we need a team with real world experience that can deliver results.
Judith Collins and Gerry Brownlee have many decades of political, business and life experience, and in my view lead a team that is much stronger than the alternatives.
On more jobs, tens of thousands of Kiwis are losing their jobs right now. The key challenge is to create new jobs to replace them. Labour’s idea is primarily to borrow more money and for government to buy those jobs. We can’t do that for long.
National backs the tens of thousands of Kiwis who own businesses, large and small, to find ways to expand their businesses and take on more people. That’s where most of the genuine, sustainable jobs come from.
We’ll help them by keeping taxes low, by reducing regulatory costs and with targeted programmes like JobStart, which gives firms $10,000 for each additional hire, and BusinessStart which allows Kiwis who’ve lost their job to use tax paid on redundancy as a tax credit for a new business.
We’ll also massively increase the ability to rapidly write off new investment, to encourage those firms with cash to invest and grow.
On a better economy, our core pitch is that New Zealand will return to prosperity faster under National.
Our economic plan will give our businesses the confidence to invest and grow to create more jobs.
We won’t increase taxes. Higher tax is the last thing New Zealand needs right now.
We will invest wisely in critical infrastructure to get New Zealand moving again. National has a vision to connect the 2.5 million Kiwis that live between Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga with a four lane highway, to unlock the potential of that great region.
The Prime Minister seems to think there’s a simple choice between massive, debt-fuelled spending with no path back to prudent levels of debt or grinding austerity. We know that’s nonsense. Of course, any government increases spending and debt during a crisis to cushion the blow, but it is still important to be disciplined and thoughtful about spending.
We can continue to increase spending in health and education, always focusing on results, while at the same time signalling an intention to get debt back under control, in preparation for the inevitable next crisis.
The current government are fond of slogans. ‘Say yes to the test’ is the latest.
I’ll leave you with one of my own: ‘It’s time to wash your hands of Labour’.