I was out with supporters door-knocking again yesterday.
The day was clear and warm, and so were the welcomes. The people I’ve met in recent weeks have been generous with their time.
While the majority of people in the area we canvassed yesterday are Labour supporters, those that aren’t were friendly too. People appreciate the fact that a local politician is listening to what’s going on for them and their families.
One story in particular has stuck with me.
Bill and Maree (not their real names) live in their own home, and have worked hard to pay off much of their mortgage. Daughter Lisa has recently turned 17 and is living at home with Bill and Maree. Son Darren has just finished University. Bill and Maree have always held down solid jobs and bring in an average income. This has generally been enough. They were however impressed last election by John Key’s promise of tax cuts and ‘a brighter future’, and placed their vote with him.
But things have not turned out as hoped. Prices have risen and risen, and bills are getting harder to pay. The tax-cuts they were expecting haven’t lived up to expectations. And then Lisa fell pregnant. It wasn’t planned, but she’s determined to be a good mother. Bill and Maree want to support her, but they’re fearful they won’t be able to provide all that is needed for the new addition to the household. Having worked hard consistently down through the years, they went down to WINZ with Lisa to see what support is available. Nothing: unless Lisa is estranged from the family. Not until she’s 18.
Bill and Maree are feeling hard done by. Having worked hard and paid taxes all of their lives, they were expecting a little bit extra from Mr Key. Instead, they’re seeing seriously rich New Zealanders enjoy the big big tax cuts, while they don’t have quite enough to make ends meet. And then, to make matters worse, when they need a bit of help, they’re realising that’s not there either.
Bill and Maree are disillusioned. They’re changing their vote. But on top of their disappointment about Mr Key’s failure to deliver them a brighter future, they’ve another concern. It’s the future of their kids. Not only are they worried about their daughter: their son Darren is wanting to settle down too.
Darren’s just finished a degree and has been offered a very good job in Dunedin. But his partner’s pregnant, and they’re concerned about the cuts to Working For Families. With a student loan and the cuts to Working For Families, they too will struggle to make ends meet. Darren’s mates are telling him to move to Oz. One of them has already, and he’s earning nearly three times as much doing the same job.
This story echoes others I’ve encountered in recent weeks.
Many ‘swing’ voters feel disillusioned with the Government that they voted in last time. Some say the jury is still out, and they want to give Key another chance. Others are sick of him.