The Soap Box: Have New Zealanders become uncaring?

Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Monday, 31 July 2017, 6:08AM
(Getty Images).
(Getty Images).

Poverty isn't a word that sits comfortably with anyone even though fortunately few people in this country know what real poverty is. To witness that, visit Africa where 21 of the 25 poorest countries in the world are. The remaining four are Afghanistan, Haiti and closer to home Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

Now that's bound to get the backs up of many who rightly say there are now too many people in this country struggling to make ends meet. It's right because poverty here isn't something that should rest easy with any of us in a country that not too long ago prided itself on the image of the land of milk and honey.

Walk down a street in the CBD of most cities these days and you'll come across sleeping bags laid out on a sheet of cardboard with an upturned begging hat of the inhabitant - there are at least half a dozen nestled in shop doorways along the route that I take to Parliament each day.

But as a country have we become uncaring? If you look at The Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS poll that would seem to be the case. When voters were asked what's the biggest issue likely to affect voting behaviour this election, just 10 percent said it'd be poverty.

That won't resonate with The Greens who've been making great play out of those struggling to put food on the table, as we're told was the case with Metiria Turei whose admitted to ripping off welfare as a solo mum and will face the consequences when she meets a fraud investigator this week.

The poll isn't much better news for Labour who've been banging on about housing and highlighting it as a major voter concern that'll affect the election outcome. Just 12 percent of us say our vote will be affected by it.

New Zealand First's, and indeed Labour's platform of pairing back the number of migrants isn't of great concern either it seems with the poll listing immigration as a concern for just 9 percent of us.

This poll will be music to the ears of the Beehive though with National making great play of how well it's done with the economy, and given its consistent poll rating in the mid to late 40s, it seems to be winning the battle on that front. The economy's the biggest issue by far that'll be on our mind as we file into the ballot box with 25 percent of us saying it's the main issue that's likely to determine the way we vote.

Coming in as the second most important issue, nine points behind the economy, is health.

Perhaps it's time for the parties then to apply a bit more strategic thinking.

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