Food, jobs important, not jostling in politics

By Chester Borrows

The politics of any country come and go - it ebbs and flows in cycles.

Some of us are addicted to the cut-and-thrust of Parliament and the palace intrigue of party scraps, but it is not the stuff that makes the world go around.

Some who watched the Shearer-and-Cunliffe saga at Labour's conference a few weeks ago will remember that 10 years ago at National Party conference similar things were happening.

It is only natural that when a mighty totara falls, or is cut down, many will struggle for ascendancy, but generally only one will survive to take its place. David Shearer's problem after the caucus vote is discipline.

He needs to maintain it within the ranks of his MPs, who he can exert some control over, but he also needs discipline from the rank and file of the wider party and union movement, who he cannot control.

How all of this plays out in the media is beyond anyone's control, but for those of us who live (at least some of the time) within "the beltway", it will be watched with rapt attention.

What too many in Wellington forget is that these goings on mean little to most people outside the Capital.

Most people don't care which seat in the House David Cunliffe occupies - they care about people getting operations when they need them, about their children being healthy and schools.

They care much less about who sits at the Cabinet table, and much more about putting food on their table. They want safe streets, and a positive outlook for the future.

Through all the drama this year, the Government remains focused on delivering on those things.

We are spending more on education than ever before, including early childhood education.

In health, our electorate's DHBs are producing superb results at immunising our babies.

Both are beating the 85 per cent national target for immunised 8-month-olds, with Whanganui DHB achieving 90 per cent, and Taranaki DHB 87 per cent.

More money than ever is spent on healthcare, and waiting times for operations are way down.

There have been more than 150,000 homes insulated and soon every state house in the country will be warmer, dryer and healthier, which means our children will sleep better, stay healthier, learn faster and grow stronger and stay that way well into adulthood.

Our crime rate is trending solidly down and is now 25 per cent lower than it was just four years ago.

In my own area of Courts, this has led to the number going through our court system falling 30 per cent at the same time.

Unemployment seems to be a never-ending argument of numbers - this survey versus that one, percentages versus total numbers.

However we count it, too many people don't have jobs, a stark reminder that we are not immune to the difficult times the world is going through.

That's why we remain focused on helping businesses grow jobs, through increased productivity and trade opportunities.

There will always be the negative stats which cause us grief too.

We have much better roads and vehicles, tougher licence tests and harsher penalties, and we can cut road deaths down almost miraculously, but still far too many people die on our roads. We offer regulation after regulation limiting alcohol, requiring food availability, alcohol-free drinks, courtesy vehicles to take people home. Yet booze, fights, and drunken driving are the hallmarks of the summer holiday breaks.

At the end of another year we all have much to be proud of, but much to work on.

We have much to look forward to, but also mistakes to learn from.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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