The heart is wrestling with the head. The heart says it would be healthy to have a change after nine years and let's face it, an attractive young female Prime Minister would be good for our image in the world. The head says don't mess with success.

The heart says it would be good to give a younger generation a go. The head says generational politics is overstated. Millennials will be no more of one mind than any other generation. For every Jacinda Ardern there will be a Nikki Kaye. Many of the generation at university will know free tertiary education is just plain bad public policy. It's sickening to see them offered this temptation to use the first vote of their lives for self interest.

The heart says we have budget surpluses stretching ahead as far as the eye can see. Let's fix homelessness and child poverty. The head says I'd love to, but I'm not sure statistical researchers are telling us much about the problems. You should check their definition of homelessness. There are nothing like 40,000 people living on the streets or in cars. And if you agree with them that money is the main problem for poor children, tell me this.

Once we have lifted all household incomes above the statistical poverty line do you think all the kids will come to school with a cut lunch?

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The head took the heart along to the Herald's "mood of the boardroom" breakfast on Tuesday to watch Grant Robertson go head to head with Steven Joyce.

Joyce was his usual calm, measured, authoritative self but became more earnest when he talked about our economic scale, pointed out that even the likes of Air New Zealand are minnows on a global scale, and described how vital it is for business here to remain competitive on costs and have access to big markets.

If we go to Apec in November and decline to sign TPP-11 because we want to close the country to foreign house buyers, he said, every other country will pull out its old wish list and we will be back where we started so long ago. My heart was thinking, there goes our image too. Commentators on world political trends would see our new Prime Minister more like Trump than Trudeau.

The heart hoped Robertson would endorse just about everything Joyce said but all I remember him talking about was lots of "collaboration" and sitting around tables. And one other memorable moment near the end when Joyce insisted there really was a hole in Labour's budget projections.

"Steven, you've actually embarrassed yourself again this morning," Robertson replied, "you're actually making a fool of yourself."

Joyce stuck to his guns and Robertson lost it.

"I'm sick of this, Steven," he screeched, "for the last two weeks your have been saying there is an $11.7 billion hole. There isn't, is there? Is there?" It wasn't Joyce making a fool of himself in front of all those business decision makers.

The one issue on which the heart and head agree is the need to restore the Kiwi housing dream. But the head was troubled by something Joyce said on that subject. He is worried that the Reserve Bank's lending restrictions might now have cooled demand to the point that the supply side will stop growing. Arrested growth in our building capacity is the last thing we need right now.

Labour of course plans to set up a state building corporation to provide new houses at cost-price to first-time buyers. Joyce doubts it would bring down Auckland prices. "There is only one house market," he said, "You can sell them at $400,000 but the buyers will flick them for $700,000 and say, thanks very much." Truly the heart was taking a battering there.

Election campaigns are a good, gruelling test of the character and judgment of people who ask to be entrusted with our economic and social wellbeing. By now relentless positivity has palled, the smile is looking forced and when you read what Ardern says, it doesn't mean very much. She seems to talk from a superficial liberal checklist. Euthanasia, check. Easier abortion, check. Medical marijuana, "I don't need 60 seconds".

I wonder if she took much longer to think about the "captain's call" on tax reform that turned to custard this week. Maybe her judgment will be better for this experience, maybe Robertson will be more mature next time his figures are challenged. The head wants to trust them with the economy but their campaign hasn't given me enough confidence.

Do they know how far we have come, how hard it has been, how easily it could be undone?

I'm not going to vote for them but the heart may be happy if they win.