As we come to the end of the first week of the campaign trial for 2020, I’m wondering, how much you noticed and how much you cared.
We’ve spent the pre-election leadup period waiting for policy from our parties, because that’s where the meat is, that’s what they believe in, it’s what they will commit to, it’s what they will put on the record.
So this week, the policy started coming thick and fast - promises made, nothing edgy, nothing transformative, nothing … dare I day … sexy.
You can almost hear the politicians thinking… “people are weary, they’re concerned, they’re angry – let’s not piss them off anymore”. The two major parties are doing their best to convince us their team is the better experienced to lead the country while the minor parties are doing their best to convince us they will hold the government to account on the things that matter, with more radical policies.
Is that enough for you?
Let’s look at the week and what we were deliver by Labour and National.
The big talking point was whether we should turn Matariki into another public holiday, and the other was our inability to secure the rugby championship.
I’m all for celebrating Matariki, It’s a feel good election promise. Who doesn’t want another day off during the year - the answer is of course business, but business leaders have one vote each, just like their employees – and there are more workers than business owners.
The second was losing the Rugby Championship hosting to Australia - which really isn’t about the election, but everything that happens in this period is in the context of the election. It’s disappointing eh, but at least there will be some rugby to enjoy.
So the big talking points – a holiday and rugby.
To be fair, Labour introduced new border rules and a new top tax rate of 39 percent for the top two percent of Kiwis earning more than $180,000. It’s forecast to generate more than $500 million in revenue a year, which is on message, if not impactful.
They also announced a new Welfare initiative, and pledged 100% renewable power by 2030.
In the blue corner, National is promising a new “infrastructure bank” to streamline and fund projects. They’re promising roads, and funding for schools and hospitals. They’re also keen to throw electric vehicles in bus lanes – which probably cost them the votes of all bus drivers – get tough on meth, and have pitched various other policies we’ve heard over the last few decades.
Like all elections, the lolly scramble has begun.
But one week in it just feels like the lollies are a bit stale, maybe the sugar has rubbed off in the party pack.
Wouldn’t it be invigorating if one of the main parties offered a brave ambitious plan for the next three years and beyond? Rather than ask us to stay the course and endorse the obvious.
Voting for the status quo might be comforting to some, but as we head into an unpredictable three years, it would be great to see some ambitious, agile, progressive, transformation thinking.
That’s what we ask of them, but looking at what we’ve been dished this week, it looks like they’ve already decided we’re not up for it.
I can’t help but think the Covid Election could also be themed Don’t Rock the Boat.