Three years. That's what you get as a Government to earn our support. Three years. It's not a long time to make lasting change. But one thing three years is long enough for is to shape the life of a child. And that's clearly the vision of Jacinda Ardern and her Government.

Everyone talks about "vision" in politics. What are the parties' and leaders' visions for New Zealand? But none of our parties are particularly good at articulating it.

Simon Bridges' vision is probably the haunting image of a caucus divided. One where his MPs are unafraid to be supportive on social media of the so-called "emotional junior staffer" who turned out to be an "empathetic loyal staffer". Or maybe he's haunted by the fact that the review into the National Party's culture towards women didn't actually interview any female MPs and now isn't being shown to caucus either. Or he could be haunted by the fact that some in National's caucus now think no review actually took place at all, beyond a reading of National's health and safety manuals.


Maybe this causes him not to sleep at all and that's why he keeps offering up conflicting ideas. Like how he wants an increased surveillance state, but then he also wants to ignore police advice about Anzac day events being cancelled.

The Prime Minister made it clear in the lead-up to the election that her vision was to make New Zealand the best place in the world to raise a child and that the wellbeing of New Zealand's children would be her reason for being. Then she went and had a child of her own and the political became the personal.

And to be fair to her Government, they've done some things well. The families package has helped tens of thousands of New Zealanders with more money coming into their bank accounts.

The Government also immediately increased paid parental leave to 22 weeks and that's increasing further. There's a Best Start payment of $60 per week and increased social services that all came about because of the cancellation of National's tax cuts.

The Green Party introduced minimum standards for rentals so that the houses many are born into are slightly better and don't make them sick. The Government has built a huge number of state houses, so those on the waiting list are getting into a home. They're also making it more affordable for people to visit doctors.

Impressively the Government isn't just focused on short-term wins, they're looking longer term and working on something more embedded, something that lasts, something better. The first Wellbeing Budget will be delivered in May and I expect this to have a strong child poverty and wellbeing focus while later this year, New Zealand's first Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy will be released.

But there are plenty more things they could be doing. And I'm just not sure they have the fortitude to do them.

They could show actual courage and go after the 100 companies who are responsible for over 70 per cent of harmful emissions that are fast murdering our planet. It's pretty pointless extending paid parental leave if the world these children inherit is some Mad Max-like wasteland not fit for survival.


Upping the minimum wage is fine, but there's research that shows that actually getting richer people and bigger corporations to pay more tax is a better way to lift society as a whole. I genuinely can't understand the aversion to paying tax. If we all paid more tax, we'd get a better society to live in.

If I'm earning obscene amounts of money then why would I pay some fancy pants tax accountant to hide my income when I could have a Government that can afford four lanes in Northland as well as a cool underground train network in Auckland? One that rebuilds Christchurch faster and gives Dunedin a new hospital?

If this Government really wants to be a force for good, then force through some good. Go big. Put in a new tax bracket for people earning over $120,000. Make corporations pay their fair share. Penalise tax evasion like National penalised beneficiaries.

You want to look after children and give them the best possible start in life? Then start being a Government that pays for things that make a real difference. Collect enough tax so we can give every person insulation and heating for their home, and books, and food. Enough so that we can transport people around in a way that doesn't ruin the environment. These aren't luxuries that only the rich should enjoy, they are bare necessities that make living bearable.

I have an 8-month-old daughter. I want her to grow up in a country that cares about its people and works hard for them. I don't want her to have to work hard just to live. I don't want her to have to work hard to find arable land. I don't want her to live in a uber-capitalist nightmare where only the rich get to stay warm, own houses, and eat well.

So come on Jacinda, Labour, NZFirst and the Greens. Step up and be a progressive and transformative government. I know you want to, let's do this. You've only got three years to impress us. But that's also more than enough time to have a lasting impact on the life of a child.

David Cormack has worked for the Labour and Green parties and interned for Bill English while studying.