ABC of National’s contenders

Unlike the keyboard worriers, Audrey Young actually interviews real people and has written a great piece on Adams, Bridges and Collins. The answers are revealing.


Q. What is the Government’s greatest weakness and how would you counter it?


The lack of any real thinking about how they will actually deliver on their “motherhood and apple pie” statements and the long-term impact their sound-bite style changes will have on the prosperity of New Zealand. Countering that is about demonstrating that we have not only the passion to improve the opportunities for all New Zealanders but the talent, focus and track record to actually make a difference.

Slight dig at Jacinda but not really answering the question.

SIMON BRIDGES: A lack of direction and real plan for New Zealand. This lack of cohesion creates an uncertainty that is undermining our economy and will ultimately hurt our most vulnerable.

Only answered half the question.

JUDITH COLLINS: The Government’s greatest weakness is that the coalition parties, Greens and NZ First don’t just have wildly divergent views and supporters but the MPs actively dislike each other so much that NZ First refuses to acknowledge the Greens are even part of the Government — even though the Greens have ministers in the Government. They and Labour have made huge and sometimes contradictory promises to their voters — presumably because they had no inkling that they’d end up in Government — and now they’re fighting each other to get a share of the money. The Government Budget process is a brutal process for any new minister and they’re starting to discover that. I would exploit this inherent weakness by holding them each to account for their divergent promises to New Zealanders.

Hard facts about the weakness and a promise to hold them to account.

Q. Would it be easier for a woman leader to take on Jacinda Ardern?
AMY ADAMS: I’m standing on my merit, not my gender. Our most important job is to appeal to New Zealanders across the board and show them not only our vision but our connection and ability to deliver on the issues that they care about. So it’s not about gender, it is about the ability to connect with a wide range of New Zealanders along regional, gender, ethnicity, age and personal backgrounds. If we do that well we will besuccessful.

SIMON BRIDGES: No. This is not about gender but about the qualities to lead. The National Party I would lead will hold this Government to account and prepare a positive, upbeat vision for New Zealand for the 2020s. My colleagues and I have both experience and new talent and are up for it.

JUDITH COLLINS: It’s not about gender. New Zealanders expect a Prime Minister to be up for the job and not use gender as an excuse for any lapse in performance. The whole gender issue is a sideshow. Jacinda Ardern is a formidable opponent and National needs a strong and decisive leader who is ready for that fight — and that’s me.

A loaded question that they all had to say “it is not about gender” to, but Judith flips it away from her gender to Jacinda using the gender card. Well done.

Q. Which National policy or policies would be top of your list for review?
AMY ADAMS: Part of being in Opposition is the chance to take stock of where we are and set the direction for the future. Every organisation needs to evolve alongside societal changes. Having won the support of nearly half of all voters at the election, it’s important we hang on to that support and find the aspects where we can do better to connect with the aspirations of even more Kiwis. The details of that is something we are discussing as a caucus and as leader I wouldn’t simply impose my view but would seek to guide our caucus through these deliberations.

Lots of political speak but no answer.

SIMON BRIDGES: National has left a strong legacy for the current Government so they have no excuses for failure. I want to emphasise National’s Bluegreen strengths and develop our policies here further while we are in Opposition. We can sensibly marry New Zealand’s strong economy with environmental excellence.

More of the same tired, old National ideas from Simon, it seems.

JUDITH COLLINS: Top of the list would be the Resource Management Act. In our last term of Government, we failed to get the meaningful reform that would have freed up the cost and availability of housing. It wasn’t through lack of trying. We, unfortunately, didn’t secure the support of Act earlier on in our time in government when they had more MPs, which would have enabled the reforms New Zealand needs. Instead, when we last tried, Act was reduced to one member and NZ First and Labour would not assist. The changes we made to accommodate the Maori Party unfortunately overshadowed some of the excellent changes that we tried to make.

Straight answer: RMA.

Q. Did Winston Peters negotiate in good faith with National during coalition talks and is the prospect of a future deal a lost cause?
AMY ADAMS: At the end of the day the coalition talks are now irrelevant. It didn’t happen, and we’ve moved on to being the most effective Opposition we can be to win back government in 2020.

SIMON BRIDGES: Well, that decision has now been made. I am focused on the future and the opportunity for National to rejuvenate and evolve our talent and policies so we are a great government-in-waiting ready for governing from 2020.

JUDITH COLLINS: All indications that we were given is that the negotiations were in good faith. I was not included in the negotiating team, so I have no reason to believe otherwise.

Pretty similar responses: its history, let it go.

Q. What do you think of Donald Trump?
AMY ADAMS: I confess to being shocked at his election. It was the zenith of a range of unpredicted political events worldwide. But for the time that he holds the office of President of the United States it’s in New Zealand’s interests that he is treated with the respect his office warrants.

SIMON BRIDGES: He may spend a lot of time on Twitter but he’s also leading a strong economic agenda that is seeing domestic businesses invest more in their growth and staff. New Zealand has a strong, enduring relationship with the United States we must continue to work hard on.

JUDITH COLLINS: I think there’s a lot of similarity with Jacinda Ardern. Very popular with some segments of the community and extremely adept at using media and social media to create an image and get cut-through. Both have made big promises. Both will be expected to deliver.

Of course, Trump has to be brought up. Why not Merkel or May or Trudeau? Adams appeals to the left, Bridges gives Trump some credit for the economy and Collins neatly puts Jacinda in the Trump camp – clever!

Q. What is your view on euthanasia?
AMY ADAMS: This is a deeply personal issue for me as it is for many MPs. Four years ago I sat by my mother’s bedside and watched her die a gruesome and undignified death. While she had access to all the medication and nursing care you could ever want, she wanted the right to choose her own time. But the prospect of pressure being applied to elder family members or for decisions to be taken which may be regretted does concern me and that’s what I’m interested in as we consider this issue further.

SIMON BRIDGES: I opposed David Seymour’s bill because I worry about the lack of safeguards in it.

JUDITH COLLINS: This is a tough conscience vote. I’ve been very concerned that David Seymour’s bill doesn’t give sufficient protection for the infirm, who could feel either pressured or obligated to ask for euthanasia. I’m also concerned that when we rightly decry our high suicide rate among the young, we would send entirely the wrong message to vulnerable New Zealanders. I am opposed to the bill.

Two quite clearly opposed. Adams who knows where she stands?

Q. Best concert you’ve been to?
AMY ADAMS: A close race between Tina Turner at Jade Stadium and Robbie Williams at Western Springs.

SIMON BRIDGES: I love concerts of all kinds. ACDC at the Wellington Cake Tin was outstanding.

JUDITH COLLINS: The best was George Benson many years ago. It was a beautiful sunny day and my husband was working at the concert as a police officer. It was just perfect.

Who really cares? But, once again, Judith shines by managing to include the fact that hubby was a bobby. Point scored.

Q. A surprising fact about you?
AMY ADAMS: My third place in the Auckland secondary schools Rhythmic Gym competition back in the day. (Ribbon was my speciality!)

SIMON BRIDGES: I am a struggling muso in a politician’s body. I played drums for a long time and would love to take it up again one day.

JUDITH COLLINS: I love to keep learning and I continue to study. I’m quite a way along into part-time postgraduate study at Massey University in the area of health and safety so I can better understand the application of principles Parliament has put in place for businesses. This year, I’m studying ergonomics. I’m looking forward to the engineering parts.

Two bits of useless information and one pearler. Judith absolutely nails this one.

And there is a clear winner here.

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WH is a pale, stale, male who does not believe all the doom and gloom climate nonsense so enjoys generating CO2 that the plants need to grow by driving his MG.

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