Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search - 7 November 2008 - 7 November 2008

A Weekly Report from the Keyboard of Murray McCully MP for East Coast Bays

E Day

There is an expression that has been heard with increasing frequency by this National Party candidate over recent weeks: “If you guys don’t win I’m going to Australia.” And too many people actually mean it.

The fact that 82,000 New Zealanders left permanently last year, over 46,000 of them to Australia, should be a major concern. The fact that the numbers departing annually for Australia have doubled in the space of five short years has gone largely unnoticed. But it really does matter now.

Unless we start to confront that challenge in short order, the slide will be irreversible. The wage gap that is now 38% between New Zealand and Australia will grow bigger. The pull on our talent and skill will be irresistible.

In an election campaign in which there has been complaint about the paucity of policy contrast between the two major parties, there has been one respect in which the difference is an enormous chasm: a John Key-led Government would be deadly serious about doing what it takes to make this country much more competitive in terms of economic growth and living standards.

The early strapline used by the Key leadership “Ambitious for New Zealand” may have been mocked by opponents and by some in the media, but it absolutely sums up what John Key, the politician, is all about. Every speech, every advertisement, every statement in this campaign has reflected that.

By contrast, the Labour Party has shown that it is driven by something very different: a determination to retain power at any cost. Over nine years in office we have seen the lot: Knowledge Wave conferences, “economic transformation”, “Closing the Gaps,” “the top half of the OECD.” None of them more than slogans or gimmicks.

Under pressure to account for nine years in office, their response has been to assemble the largest political dirt manufacturing machine ever seen in New Zealand politics, much of it funded by hapless taxpayers. The slew of daily attack press releases by taxpayer-funded ministerial offices has been relentless. The entire Labour advertising budget was dedicated to one task only: unremitting attacks, most of them deeply personal.

All of this culminated in the infamous H fee “neutron bomb” in the second to last week of the campaign. An attack that was deeply symbolic of a Clark Government that cares only about itself and the retention of power at any cost. And that is not the sort of government that is going to squarely confront the major challenges now facing New Zealand.

The polls are providing grounds for cautious optimism. But no more than that. The MMP system is perfectly capable of generating an outcome that thwarts the overwhelming desire for change. Turnout will matter. In fact turnout will matter a very great deal.

Thank you for your interest and support over the past three years.
Let’s make tomorrow a day to remember.


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