Despite the current uncertainty, at some point soon we will all be heading to the polls to decide who will lead us through what are likely to be some of the most difficult years we have ever experienced.
I do not have to tell you that the decision we make at this election is a critical one. It will have long-lasting ramifications, not only for the next three years but also in determining the type of country that we want to emerge into a post-Covid world.
It might be cliche, but this really is one of the most important elections of our lifetime.
And as voters, we need to treat it as such, because we have some really difficult decisions to make.
Although we might have initially done an outstanding job in bringing Covid under control, the news this week of a new outbreak in Auckland alongside the unfolding disaster emerging across the Tasman are a clear warning against complacency.
Therefore, my one election wish is for our political parties to actually focus on what matters and that is developing a Covid recovery plan.
Stop with the personality politics, sex scandals, political infighting and arguing about who can outspend who. Instead, focus on policy and how we get ourselves out of the mess we are in.
Because this election needs to be different. Instead of the same tired rhetoric and empty promises, our politicians need to tell voters honestly and in plain language, what they are going to do.
Now is the time for transparency. If we are truly a team of 5 million, each party needs to play its part, share its plan and talk to us honestly about the challenges, the opportunities and the trade-offs.
Because we have the right to make an informed choice.
There are many questions that need to be answered by each party.
Currently, our tourism and international education sectors, our largest and fifth-largest export markets, are facing an existential crisis. What is their future? Because right now there are hundreds of businesses on the brink of collapse; most will be small mum-and-dad companies that have been built on dreams, sweat and tears and they will cease to exist.
The Government is borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars every day to support our economy and debt is forecast to grow by tens of billions of dollars. These numbers are so large, they are impossible to comprehend, but we need to understand that not only will we be paying it back, the burden will also fall to our children and our grandchildren and this will take away some of their choices.
Although borrowing now is the right thing to do, we need to understand more clearly how much we are borrowing, where is it being spent, how are we going to pay it back and how quickly? Because at some point we are going to have to confront our debt.
The unemployment rate is going to climb dramatically over the coming months. How do we prepare for the social costs of joblessness and help these workers into employment in a new world? An unemployment rate of 8 or 10 per cent is not some arbitrary number. It represents tens of thousands of everyday Kiwis who will lose their jobs and wake up wondering how they are going to pay their bills and support their families.
They will be our neighbours, our friends and our colleagues. They will have contributed to our economy, dutifully paid their taxes and, in many cases, have worked incredibly hard, toiling to grow a world-class business from the bottom of the world.
They deserve to know what the plan is.
Unfortunately, concrete policies are nowhere to be seen so far in this election campaign. In fact, every political party seems to lack a vision for the future or the will to have an honest conversation with us, the voters, about the reality of the situation we find ourselves in.
This lack of vision only contributes to shrinking business and consumer confidence that is manifesting in our corporate high rises and along our high streets.
We should all be demanding more from our politicians.
Because the truth is, there simply isn't the money to do everything we would like to do. Enough of the focus group tested slogans. Instead let's have an honest conversation.
We must make trade-offs and we need to stretch every taxpayer dollar to deliver true value for our economy.
We need to be working to create an environment that helps Kiwi businesses thrive as we emerge from the current crisis. I speak with certainty when I say that it is largely through the private sector that we will grow our economy.
We need to be nurturing our entrepreneurs and training our workforce to take advantage of new opportunities that will be presented in a post-Covid world.
And we need our political leaders to be bold because now is the opportunity for transformation.
We have long-standing and complex issues in this country – child poverty, housing affordability, health infrastructure, environmental degradation and low workforce productivity, and without a Covid recovery plan, these issues will continue to deteriorate.
Yes, Covid has brought many challenges, but it has also delivered us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something really different. After all, the country is facing its biggest crisis since World War II.
Labour has to date built up enormous goodwill with its handling of health response to the pandemic - although the past 36 hours might call this into question. Assuming it still stands, Labour must now use this goodwill to advocate bold and progressive policies, offering a totally different approach to managing the social issues we face in this country.
On the other hand, National has the opportunity to capture voters' imagination by offering its own policy prescription. Being behind in the polls, it has little to lose by offering an alternative approach to how we address the economic and social challenges we face.
If both political parties did this, then we really would be having a contest of ideas. That is what the voters of this country deserve.
5 Questions for our politicians
1. What is your key Covid 2020 election promise?
2. Describe for us what New Zealand's Covid plan under your leadership in the next 36 months?
3. What does the global situation need to look like to open borders?
4. What steps would you take to strengthen border security to prevent Covid re-entering the community?
5. What advice do you have for SMEs, tourism/student operators who are facing the possible collapse of their business?
- Cecilia Robinson is co-founder and co-CEO of Tend; founder and director of My Food Bag