One Man Poll: It's time for a change of leadership

By Simon Collins

Weekend Herald reporter Simon Collins has been on the road for three weeks conducting a one-man poll. From Cape Reinga to Fiordland, he questioned 600 New Zealanders, face-to-face on the streets.

Read his reports in the Herald and on nzherald.co.nz today and throughout next week, and check out our photo galleries showing what ordinary people are saying ahead of the election.

New Zealanders are voting for a change of leadership in the coming election - but not for too much change of direction.

Interviews with 600 voters in the streets from Cape Reinga to Fiordland this month confirm that National is picking up more than twice as many new votes as Labour, making a change of Government likely in the November 8 election.

But it is rare to find the kind of bitterness against an incumbent party which marked the country's last three regime-changing elections in 1984, 1990 and 1999, or even much excitement for the likely winners, John Key's National Party.

Voters are very worried about rising living costs and crime, and almost as much about understaffed hospitals and welfare cheats.

They hope that National will respond by cutting taxes, getting tougher on criminals and beneficiaries, and somehow dealing with the health staffing crisis.

But 36-year-old mother Susan Hainsworth, a blood technician in Palmerston North, spoke for many when she said: "I'm not saying we need to do anything different, just a fresh approach."

"The sooner we get rid of Helen Clark, the better," Mrs Hainsworth said.

"I don't mind Labour, but she's become a Muldoon - she's sort of power-hungry. It's time for her to go.

"I think National has become more central and I just think we need a change from the same-old, same-old."

Wellington doctor Grant Cave, also switching to National at 36, said most of the good that was ever going to be done by the Clark Government had been done.

"Economic stewardship seems to have gone reasonably well with the Labour Government, so I'm hoping they [National] don't change a lot," he said.

"I wouldn't mind a slight shift to the right in social policy, but not a hell of a lot."

And in Invercargill, 24-year-old travel consultant Rob Wilson said he was switching to National because Labour had simply "had their day".

"New Zealand needs a strong leader to get it economically focused and Labour is not providing that," he said.

"Neither is National really, but change is as good as a holiday."

- NZ Herald

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