Thursday, 16 October 2008

on the campaign trail

it's been an extremely busy but wonderful day. as mentioned yesterday, the PM came to town, and performed incredibly well.

she'd spent the morning in ngaruwahia, visiting a family who had benefitted from the investment home insulation. this family was not well-off by any standards, and the insulation had a very positive impact on the health of one of the children. of course that's why the government investment of $1billion over 10 years is important. the health benefits probably outweigh the environmental benefits of savings in heating costs. national's plan to scrap this policy is just stupid.

back to the campaign trail, the PM got to the uni of waikato at 12.30. the second biggest lecture theatre in the place was packed with people sitting up the front, on the stairs and walkways, and up the back. there were plenty more outside who couldn't get in. the PM was brilliant, particularly in answering questions. there were the usual attacks on defence and overspending, but she handled them really well. the main focus of her speech was on tertiary education, as you would expect, also with some emphasis on the economy.

then it was off to the mosque. the hamilton mosque is the first mosque the PM ever visited, a few years back. this was, i think, her fourth visit to the mosque and here she talked about her work in regional interfaith dialogues and trade relationships. there was a good crowd for a thursday afternoon of a working day, i'd say over 100.

then we rushed off to wintec, where there was another huge crowd and we were joined by the hon ruth dyson. again, the session went very well, with a focus on social policy and the announcement of an increase in the abatement threshhold for beneficiaries who work part-time. the policy will, once fully rolled out, allow beneficiaries to work up to 10 hours on the minimum wage before the benefit starts getting cut. with reduction to secondary tax rates announced previously, this will mean a reasonable increase in incomes if beneficiaries are able to work part time.

while i'd still prefer an increase to the basic benefit level, this policy at least provides something for beneficiaries. it's a group that usually doesn't attract much attention from politicians, except in a negative way. so i'm glad there was as least something positive for them.

after this, the PM went to the enderly community centre, and i had to go off to tend to my kids. one thing i love about campaigning in hamilton is that we've got such a strong and diverse team. we already have sue moroney, martin gallagher, hon nanaia mahuta and myself. and we're now joined by jacinda ardern, the candidate for waikato. it's a great line-up, and such a contrast that to the monotone we have from the national party.

in another part of the country, rt hon winston peters launched his usual triennial campaign attack on immigrants. it didn't annoy me as much as the media coverage did. why is this even a story? what's new about it or even newsworthy? he does it regularly, he uses the same recycled speeches, and every time, the media lap it up and give it more coverage than it's worth. just once, it would be nice if they failed to report an anti-immigrantion speech, on the basis that it's tired old rhetoric.

the main thrust of mr peters' attack, that immigrant shouldn't be allowed here without jobs, well that's already policy for the skilled migrants category. and if the number of jobs reduces, then the number of migrants will automatically reduce, because they won't find be able to find jobs so will be denied a visa. so it's the normal ignorant pandering to his base, and it should have been ignored.

and mr key was busy organising a "razor gang" for the public service. well, as i read in comments on a blog (can't remember which one, sorry), the last national party razor gang included jenny shipley, ruth richardson and others. they slashed funding for health, education and benefits, and caused misery for many people. i really hope we don't go back to that era. especially not now, at a time when the economy needs stimulation, not a slash and cut attitude.

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