Only three weeks to go in the most remarkable election campaign in my many years of experience.

First we had Andrew Little looking to take the Labour Party to oblivion, then a last-minute change of leader, which had the media and Labour supporters wildly excited.

Jacinda-mania, the Jacinda freight train! Despite Jacinda's less than notable achievements during her time in Parliament, it appeared from the media attention that the Messiah had returned to earth, and the old Labour Party would rise from the ashes again.

Of course it did, but very largely at the expense of it's far-left allies, the Greens.
In fact the rise of Labour was really a transfer of the left-wing vote, a shift which effectively destroyed the weird Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties of the left.


Now we have, for the first time since the old socialists of Fraser and Nash, a real split between the right and left wings.

My concern however, is will the electorate be able to see how wide this split has become, and see the ramifications of their decisions.

After decades of a Centre Left Labour versus a Centre Right National, will the electorate understand how far left Ardern is taking Labour?

National were faced with a horrendous start to their last nine years in Government. The Global Financial Crisis, which had many international economists predicting a slide into the next worldwide Great Depression, the Christchurch earthquakes, which are still, after many years, a major drain on the Budget, and a massive drop in commodity prices for our main exports. Have we forgotten the $3.80 milk solids price for the dairy industry?

Most of the developed countries suffered huge upheavals, and in some cases, such as the US, resorted to a last resort move of cranking up the printing presses in an inflationary effort to stimulate their economies.

The National Government could have followed Britain and France, and crashed the economy with drastic austerity measures, and the resulting hardship and unemployment, but under John Key and Bill English's leadership they chose to hold firm with a combination of careful fiscal management, and large borrowing.

History tells us this policy brought New Zealand through the GFC in better shape than any other country in the Western world, posting Budget surpluses, and the ability to repay debt, when the "Lucky Country" across the Tasman is drowning in debt and deficits.

Now we see Labour dipping their hands deep in the cookie jar, while simultaneously introducing new tax after new tax.


Voters now have a decision to make. Do they want more of National's prudent policies, or do they want an old-style tax and spend Government?

Most of us have feelings about bottling companies extracting water for free, to export for a profit, even though it is a minuscule .2 per cent of the total extraction from the aquifer. But does it make sense to tax our productive orchards, horticulture and livestock farmers who use water to produce jobs and exports?

These are the businesses which provide over 60 per cent of the nation's export income, the overseas funds which enable all New Zealanders to have access to our iPhones, TVs, vehicles, and the gasoline to power them.

They provide employment in the regions, yet are now threatened by the Labour Party with a water tax, no details, and a capital gains tax, which will conveniently include farmland, but exclude those rapidly escalating Auckland house prices.

Free courses for tertiary students sounds great, but nothing is free. It would be a massive transfer of tax money from working people to produce lawyers, accountants, vets etc, who will charge those same working people hundreds of dollars an hour for their professional services.

And of course these students who will be tempted to vote Labour for this bribe, will be paying for the education of the next students, for the rest of their working lives if it is introduced.

So when you come to tick those boxes, remember the goodies you are being promised are not Government money. The Government does not have any money, it only has your money, taken from you, and passed on to others, after the costs of the bureaucrats of course.

David Petersen is a Central Hawke's Bay farmer. He is a former chairman of Farmlands' board of directors. He is also a past chairman of Federate Farmers' National Meat and Wool Council.

Different writers with a right-centre perspective will be writing this column in the run-up to the elections later this month.

All opinions are the writer's and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.