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An Unknown Quality

An Unknown Quality

By Matthew Neumann
28 August, 2014

During its two terms, National have accumulated a record of sporadic—right of centre—success. Their crowning achievement is balancing the books, and credit where credits due, it is an achievement worthy of some recognition. Two other noteworthy achievements are the lowering of the once exorbitant corporate tax rate, and making elective surgery more accessible.

However they also abolished the tax-less bracket for those receiving a very low income, increased GST, a regressive tax—impacts everyone equally, from poor to wealthy—made it more difficult for some to obtain higher education by doing away with allowances for postgraduate students and introducing student loan limits, and proposed a series of education policies—some of which are not in line with the general consensus amongst education specialists as to what education systems should be offering. All are policies that may well precipitate the widening of the socio-economic gap—something that various datum suggests is in fact happening. Add to this the scandals and accusations of corruption, and it becomes unclear why National are so popular, dominating the polls with incredible consistency.

There is a good a chance they will win the upcoming election, but why? Do New Zealanders genuinely think the National government is a good one? Or are they merely content with what they perceive as adequacy? Obviously both reasons are true to varying degrees, but I think one other reason holds as much weight as either – Labour represents an unknown. Many of the stalwart figures we came to know during Labour’s last stint in power have gone, and those who have taken their places have the distinction of being untested products; they may be brilliant, but we can’t know their quality for sure. In contrast, National are tried and tested. Though National’s record is in no way singular, tried and tested is perhaps more appealing than a gamble on something new at a time when cynicism about politics appears high. The fact that the smaller parties, rather than Labour, have benefited from National’s recent fall in polls, is perhaps evidence of this.

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