20 March 2014
The circus has come to town. At least, you could be forgiven for thinking so following the announcement of the election date, and the mindless braying of vacuous, discredited performers putting on their stale make up yet one more sad time to rant about who they would and would not work with after the election, as if anyone cared. Such pathetic acts are best consigned to the tawdry side shows of an old circus, rather than being treated as serious contributions to the future of our country.
Yet the future of our country is what elections are supposed to be all about. They are the occasion for people to pause and reflect about their country, their own aspirations and their options, and to select the political leaders they consider are best suited to serve them. The credibility of the process is tarnished when it is trivialised and abused the way some have over the last generation.
Norman Kirk’s dictum that the electoral process is the time to put the interests of families first in shaping the national agenda has always been a priority for UnitedFuture. Promoting the diverse interests of families and the communities they live in lies at the heart of our rationale for being in politics at all. While today’s times and circumstances are very different from those of the Kirk era, we continue to share his view about the importance of vibrant, functioning families, as the core of a modern, functional society.
In today’s circumstances, one size does not fit all, so universal solutions to problems are no longer appropriate. But solutions which reflect a commitment to choice and security for as many as possible are. UnitedFuture’s key election policies will reflect that balance.
The debate about household income and associated issues like paid parental leave highlight the differing circumstances of many families today. We will continue to promote 12 months’ paid parental leave as economic circumstances permit, and we will also champion afresh our income sharing policy as the best option for providing flexibility in maximising disposable household income. Our commitment to choice in the age of entitlement and rate of New Zealand Superannuation payments through Flexi Super reflects the same respect for choice when it comes to people planning the best retirement income options for their circumstances.
While income sharing and Flexi Super show respect for the dignity of family circumstances in differing situations, our commitment to enhancing New Zealanders’ access to our outdoor environment through recognising our rights to fish recreationally, or to tramp or hunt in our bush and forests is equally important in supporting the wider environment in which families develop and grow.
These are the sorts of issues that matter to people and are what the election should be focusing upon, rather than the irrelevance of yesteryear’s circus and its pathetic hangers on.