Today is the last day Parliament sits before its dissolution ahead of the general election on October 14.
Expect a frenzy of further policy releases and party promises to come as the campaigning now begins in earnest.
But do voters even care?
Former politician turned commentator Richard Prebble says the kingmaker in this election will be apathy. Byelection voting is low, disillusionment high, and increased negativity will be on show during campaigning.
Certainly there seems to have been less of the good, and more of the bad and the ugly on display of late. The personality politics have become distasteful, the behaviour of MPs of various stripes unedifying, the race-baiting and taunts of violence inflammatory.
Democracy is in a fragile state, here and elsewhere, and it is little wonder there has been an erosion of trust in politicians and systems.
But this is an important election, and with the cost of living affecting many Kiwis personally, issues like crime and the Treaty in the spotlight, and the existential issue of climate change and extreme weather bearing down on us, it is incumbent on voters to take an interest, even if the problems seem overwhelming.
There has been enormous disruption over the past few years of the pandemic; effectively a third world war in terms of scale and impact. It wasn’t easy to live through, and was never going to be easy coming out of. Some of the crime, violence and mental distress currently evident is a legacy of that, symptomatic of the pain, loss, anguish and anger many are feeling, and as we face into an uncertain future.
We can and must learn from the worst, while striving for the best.
Most people want similar things for themselves, their families and country. Rather than stoke division then, let’s strive to find common ground. Does it need to be such a polarising “us and them”, left or right, right or wrong mentality - in the way we live, vote or legislate?
New Zealand needs roads and rail and cycleways for transport resilience, for example. We need intensive housing alongside urban “sponges”; productive farmland and conservation areas. We need handouts and hand-ups, incentives and rewards, innovation and experience, quick fixes and long-term planning. And surely we can be bold without being brutal, not confuse fairness with favour, be both kind and firm?
We are fortunate to live in a democracy, a system fundamentally about fairness - and one that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Voting is one of the most significant democratic rights we have. It is vital our Parliament reflects the make-up and will of its people. So, amid all the negative clamouring for attention in the coming weeks, we urge New Zealanders: do your own research and thinking, and vote wisely and well.
And a shout-out to our politicians, too: to show leadership that unites not divides, and, once elected, to use our MMP system to its best advantage, to collaborate more in order to build meaningful legislation that stands the test of time, in a testing time, not the ideologies of an election cycle.