We all know politicians can't seem to give straight answers, but are we even asking them all the right questions?
Here are seven election elephants that everyone seems to be dodging:
1.Why is our GDP per capita so low?
Our GDP is only about US $37,000 per person. Australia's is $48,000, the United States is $57,000, and Ireland's is $69,000.
If you want more wealth to go around, then you need strategies to increase GDP per capita, yet our political parties only seem capable of reactive redistribution measures like tax, tax credits, and welfare (the "ambulances at the bottom of the cliff"). Like all things in life, if you don't fix the root cause, you don't truly fix anything.
2. Why is our Government debt so high?
Sometimes it's good to borrow, but $86 billion Government debt with $4 billion in interest penalties per year seems far too high. That's $4 billion dollars of our money servicing loans rather than the people of New Zealand. I might be missing some smart thinking here, but like all of these questions, I'd still like an explanation from those making these decisions on our behalf.
3.Why do we let big foreign companies avoid tax?
A Herald report last year suggested that multinationals like ExxonMobil, Apple and Google are getting away with not paying $500 million of taxes each year. $500 million could fund a number of essential community projects (or reduce individual tax rates), so why hasn't our Government closed this tax loophole like they have in Australia?
4. Why can foreigners buy our houses (especially when we can't buy theirs)?
It's the simple question we all ask at home, but no politician ever gives us a straight answer. I suspect the truth lies in trade deals with double standards. On a related note, why do we allow foreign companies to control our natural resources like bottled water, and why aren't company ownership rules consistent between countries?
5. Why has net migration septupled (x7)?
For 20 years from 1993 to 2013, New Zealand's net migration averaged 10,767 per year. Our infrastructure seemed to manage ok. But in the four years since 2013 it has risen to an incredible 41,000, 60,000, 69,000, and now 72,000. You have to add a further 28,000 net births on top of this figure too.
Housing, transport, schools, hospitals, and the environment clearly can't keep up and are only getting further behind. So why does the Government let in such unsustainable numbers? And why is Labour only willing to reduce this number to 70,000 - 80,000 new arrivals each year? Love him or hate him, Winston seems to be the only politician who faces these facts.
6. Why haven't we got electronic voting yet?
Every business communicates electronically, yet our central and local governments still operate an archaic paper and postal system. A general election looks to cost about $35 million, and we already know a referendum costs about $26 million. Not only would electronic voting significantly reduce voting costs, but it would mean our politicians would have more frequent and accurate insights into what Kiwis really want. If digital market insight is a no-brainer for running a business, why isn't it a no-brainer for running a country?
7. Why do ex MPs get perks for life?
We don't get perks for life just for doing our jobs, so why should MPs? Given the recent churn of politicians, and longer life expectancy, this will get a lot more expensive going forward too!
Some of you may already know some of these answers, but most of the country will not.
My challenge to all of our political parties with one week remaining is to confront the issues head on and be honest. As crazy as it sounds, some people do still vote based on policy and integrity.
Geoff Neal is a Business Advisor, strategist and writer.