Tick-tock. Tick-tock. The countdown's begun to the September 23 general election. You've probably heard a thing or two about it. But don't worry: this column isn't about who you should vote for.
After all, there's a whole industry of people writing about that. Plus, I can't vote, because I'm not a citizen or permanent resident.
I'm not going to bellyache too much over the rules, but I still want to make my voice heard, somehow. So in lieu of being able to go to a polling place and cast my ballot (or whatever it is Kiwis do to vote (back in Oregon, it's entirely vote by mail. Bloody convenient), I'm going to offer some unfiltered advice for politicians on the campaign trail.
TALK ABOUT IMMIGRATION
. Your advisers might suggest otherwise, telling you something about "dividing the public" or some other such nonsense. Ignore them. Talk more about immigration. Seriously, do. I can't speak for other immigrants, but for me my right to even exist in this great nation is my most important issue. When I finally can vote, you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be voting for whoever was looking out the most for me when I couldn't vote.
KEEP TALKING ABOUT IMMIGRATION
Although whatever you do, don't use language like "turn the tap down", here's looking at you, Labour. (You know who also said something similar? Trump). I'd also advise against talking about tightening the rules; that's you, National. It's the easiest way to lose our future votes.
TALK A BIT MORE ABOUT IMMIGRATION
But do it positively. More immigrants are coming here than ever before and with no signs of slowing down, and given many of us will become future voters, restricting immigration is a great way to tank your party in the future. Running the Beehive today, renting space in a 20 square metre garage in Thornbury tomorrow. Life comes at you fast.
I know I sound a bit like a broken record here but, Jacinda, do you want to smash National? Bill, do you want to stay on as PM? Then get up on stage or utilise an interview to discuss how great immigration is for NZ: How it's largely responsible for much of the country's economic growth, and is what continues to power the country to the point that, without us immigrants, New Zealand as a country would be very different to how most people know it. It's the kind of thing Angela Merkel would say, even if not everyone agrees with her. But she was elected Chancellor in 2005, 2009 and 2013 - and it's looking increasingly likely she will be again this year, too.
Any guesses for what I'm going to say as my last piece of advice?
Quick Politics 101: You tighten immigration and less immigrants come to Aotearoa, meaning there's less people who can work. As a result, the economy suffers. This also means less money for important programmes like housing, mental health, infrastructure, et cetera. Life gets worse for everyone. Oh, and you don't get re-elected. So no one wins in that scenario.
The numbers speak for themselves: in June, net migration for the year hit a new record high of 72,300. But, more importantly, 99,200 new non-NZ citizens arrived. That's 99,200 potential new voters. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of people. You can't afford to not win our eventual vote.
Ok, so the odds of Bill English or Jacinda Ardern (or Winston Peters, or Marama Fox, or David Seymour, or Gareth Morgan, or any other leader of a political party in New Zealand) reading this themselves may be about the same as my beloved Portland Trail Blazers calling me up with an offer to play point guard for their upcoming NBA basketball season. But a person can dream, right?
And if, on the off chance, one of them does read this: get in touch. I'm more than happy to share some additional advice to help you win votes in the future. Spoiler: my tips are related to a topic that begins with the letter "i."