Paula Bennett on what women want from Labour, National in election


This week a political poll showed National ahead of Labour, although neither had enough with their support partners of Act and the Greens respectively to get over the line – Te Pāti Māori held the balance of power.

What is interesting is that in the poll more women supported National than Labour for the first time since Ardern took over the leadership of the Labour Party. I am not surprised. It is often women who are making the daily financial decisions and are usually key on the big-ticket items as well. Try selling a house to a couple when she’s not happy with it – it ain’t gonna happen.

Right now many women are looking at the money that is coming into the household and the increases in costs and what is going out and know that the maths just isn’t working. They understand compromise. If we cut back on x then that means we can cover our necessities. We prioritise our kids and follow the family around turning off lights after them to save power. We think about whether we use the car or put on raincoats and get everyone out walking. As the cost of living soars, we pray for fine weather in the holidays because a trip to the beach or park is free and will keep everyone entertained for a few hours.

We also know that it is not likely to get better quickly and in fact, we think our mortgage repayments will continue to rise and so too will fruit and vegetables. We aren’t stupid, we understand economics better than most men – we just don’t need fancy jargon to prove it – our bank account tells the story. We expect the Government to take some responsibility and change their ways just like we are. We don’t blame them on the whole for the situation we are currently in but as we are all tightening our belts we expect them to as well. No point in looking back (would you have bought that car a year ago if you had known mortgage rates were going to rise like this?) but we have to change what we are going to do over the next two or three years as we ride this out. We won’t blame the Government for the spending they have done to get us through, but some of those lofty plans like $15 billion on light rail or billions on a health restructure that won’t see a patient getting better care within the next 10 years are now out of touch and not in line with what I am doing in my own household.

We don’t vote for women for the sake of it. We are not dim-witted and need to be spoken to with platitudes and finger-pointing elsewhere. We vote for a plan that makes sense and can be delivered. We may not like every decision made or even agree with them, but we want to know that those in power are able to make the tough calls just like we do daily. We want a leader with heart, but if they can’t also use their head and have a team around them that can deliver then it’s a “nice to have” and we are well past that now. There is a long time between now and the next election but what the polls are telling us is that it is game on and much needs to be done to capture our heads and hearts.

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