Boy, am I glad that's over.
This has got to go down as one of the most bizarre and disappointing election run-ups I have ever seen.
What I learned during my term as national president of Federated Farmers is that politics really does matter. I have dealt with a lot of politicians and many of them greatly impress me. Conversely, the thought of a few of the others running the country scared the living daylights out of me. The marked increase in personal attacks and blatant disrespect during the campaign concerned me a lot. Why would a successful and competent person put their hand up to be a politician? For this country to thrive and prosper we need good people standing for Parliament, not clowns.
The voters had their say on Saturday night and the result confirms several things for me. Firstly, as was famously coined by Bill Clinton, "It's the economy, stupid."
The National Government has done a good job running the economy. We are enjoying one of the highest growth rates in the OECD and we have got through the worldwide credit crisis in far better shape than most. Why would you change a winning formula? Secondly it showed that New Zealand voters don't like being "bought"; two parties that were openly backed by personal fortunes failed to cross the line. What was also shown was that Kiwi voters are smart enough to look through the noise and distraction of selfish personal agendas and wanted no part of the Hager and Dotcom sideshows. It showed that a good track record is important, that numbers and credibility count, and that New Zealand is not ready to lurch to the left as Labour and the Greens would have us believe.
For the sector I work in there was a stark choice from Saturday's election. In fact there was more daylight between the policies of "right" and "left" than I have ever seen. I worked closely with the current Government during my time in Wellington and applaud their support of a successful and vibrant farming sector.
Their support for more water storage just makes sense in a region where the latest IPCC Report on climate change predicts that by 2040 Hawke's Bay can expect two to three times the droughts that we currently experience. Most of the opposition parties oppose water storage, would wind up the irrigation investment fund and put a water charge on irrigation. Like that's going to grow farming in a dry climate!
Labour and the Greens got it wrong. Both these parties were severely punished by voters with Labour's result being its worst in 92 years. If these parties want the support of provincial New Zealand then they need to stop pontificating that they know best and listen and understand what matters to people in rural New Zealand. Of the 33 provinces deemed "provincial", Labour won the grand sum of three, so outside of the big cities the map of New Zealand is well and truly blue.
Stuart Nash's win in Napier was one of these rare Labour provincial wins. Stuart is a likeable and competent politician, maybe helped by the vote splitting on the right by Garth McVicar's strong run, but all the same I am pleased to see Stuart back in Parliament as he will bring some pragmatism and provincial common sense back to the Labour caucus.
John Key needs to be applauded - he put up with a lot of personal abuse but has come back to win with a bigger majority than ever. He is now one of our few Prime Ministers to win three elections and has achieved the best third term performance of a PM since 1899.
I am excited about what lies ahead for Hawke's Bay and New Zealand. We have a rapidly growing world population with more than a million new mouths to feed every week. Add to this the fast growing middle classes of Asia and you have a very strong outlook for agriculture, our number one export industry.
When John Key's Government took power in 2008, primary industry exports made up 65 per cent of New Zealand's merchandise exports; in 2014 this has grown to 73 per cent. When you couple an already fast-growing economy with a hungry world screaming out for what we do best and put this with the track record and experience of the Key Government then I think for the country's sake, the best team has won.
• Bruce Wills is a Hawke's Bay farmer and environmentalist and is the immediate past national president of Federated Farmers.