The testing ground of politics often delivers a swift message back to politicians.

This week our two major parties have had two proposals rebuffed in quick time.

Secondary school principals slated Labour "free driving lessons in school hours" idea as "low level thinking".

The lessons are within a $50 million package for a "school leaver toolkit" project that also promises compulsory "civics" education in Years 11 to 13.


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Students would receive free five professional driving lessons, defensive driving training, and learner and restricted licence tests.

The tool kit would also teach kids budgeting and financial literacy with work experience and practical certificates available.

Not surprisingly, Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley, a former MP for Labour and Act, liked the idea.

But Secondary School Principals Association president Mike Williams said driving and civic training was already happening and suggested the proposal was "low-level thinking that is not helpful".

For new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, the proposal reached out to a sector traditionally empathetic with her party's policies. Ouch.

Prime Minister Bill English - National are proposing a bootcamp for young offenders.
Prime Minister Bill English - National are proposing a bootcamp for young offenders.

National's pushback was a little more predictable - the "boot camp" idea for young offenders and fines for errant parents was laughed at in some quarters.

Boot camps are fine as part of a holistic plan for dealing with a young offender, but track back down the young person's genetic crime strands and somewhere near its origins will be a family life that was never going to offer conventional opportunities.

Whangarei's window washers - whilst not criminals - are not only a symbol of legislative ineptitude, they are a symbol of a town that is failing to create opportunities for young people. So they turn to alternative means.

Would Labour or National's proposals help them?

Labour's proposal is closer to demonstrating an affinity with the root causes of social issues, whilst National's panders to the party faithful but is disconnected to the origins of social challenges. In other words, same old same old.

Hopefully, as the election approaches. voters will be enticed with new thinking.