PM avoids question on work by 'chosen' family

Mike and Emily Wilson with daughters Caitlin and Bella at home in Auckland. Mike has lost his job and is considering moving to Australia. Photo / Doug Sherring
Mike and Emily Wilson with daughters Caitlin and Bella at home in Auckland. Mike has lost his job and is considering moving to Australia. Photo / Doug Sherring

Prime Minister John Key says he wants to talk about issues that concern real New Zealanders, but refuses to answer a question from a real family, chosen by the public to speak for them about the challenges of balancing work, money and quality time with the kids.

The Herald on Sunday launched a quest for the Average New Zealand Household last month, intended to provide a window into issues affecting real Kiwi families this election.

But this week, it became far more real than expected. Young parents Mike and Emily Wilson told us last week how they struggled to find time to spend together as a family, with their two young daughters, when Mike was working evening shifts, up to six days a week, to rent in the Auckland suburb of Ellerslie.

This week, Mike Wilson took voluntary redundancy from his job hosting the night show on The Rock radio station - one of five broadcasters to be laid off by RadioWorks this month across The Rock, Solid Gold and More FM.

Until now, the Wilson family have tried to remain close to their families in Tauranga - especially as 18-month-old Caitlin spent most of her first year in and out of hospital with kidney problems.

But now, Mike and Emily say, they may have no choice but to leave New Zealand, to leave their friends and families, to look for work in Australia.

"I'm looking at Trade Me and jobs every day," said Mike, 25. "I left school without any qualifications.

"I can't move back to Tauranga - there wasn't one job listing in the paper at the weekend. Over in Australia, you get paid better wages on either coast, and there are chances to get into the mines which is like winning Lotto. You can live in Surfers, only three streets back from the beach, for only $375 a week.

"Emily's not keen to go but it's at a point where, what do you do for the good of your kids? I can't see us getting ahead here."

This week, Mike had a new question for the politicians: "How can you save jobs like ours so that we're not forced to follow the exodus to Australia?"

Labour leader Phil Goff said it was tragic for families like the Wilsons to feel forced to leave for Australia, because the jobs didn't exist in New Zealand. He promised to strengthen the economy to increase jobs and wages.

National leader John Key's office had previously indicated he would sit down to talk with the Herald on Sunday but that changed this week.

His spokesman said he would not answer Mike and Emily Wilson's question.

Mike Wilson said: "It's a disgrace that John Key won't respond to these issues. I don't give a s*** about the tea-party thing - I want him to address real issues that affect people like us."

But local Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga stepped up where his party leader feared to tread.

"I think redundancy is a pretty awful experience to go through," he said. He said the National Government was working hard to create jobs in the private sector through 90-day trials and an export-led recovery.

- Herald on Sunday

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