One of the things I did when advocating against the oil & gas industry in Hawke’s Bay was hold a series of public meetings in rural halls all over the region. We always finished with a cup of tea afterwards so people could come up and talk one on one. The rural community is of course, well known for being true blue but it was fascinating how many would make comment about how the Nats were an Auckland focused party who had forgotten about them.
As you would expect this didn’t translate into them changing their vote but it did indicate to me that there was a disquiet about the regions missing out. You would have thought that Winston winning the Northland bye-election would have been some sort of a wake up call. Apparently not.
Last week we had visit from Simon Bridges, who was in Hawke’s Bay on a fact finding mission. To find out what were the concerns of the business community locally. What amuses me is that nothings really changed in the last 100 days, apart from a new government of course, so why has it taken a trip to the opposition benches for Bridges to come out and find out what peoples concerns are? Did he not know this after nine years in government? Wasn’t he listening then?
Of course this flying visit only exacerbated the feeling that the Nats have lost touch with the regions. But not as much as Judith Collins’s petition on roads, which has been a far more public affair. Here in Hawke’s Bay it raised the question of making the Napier/Hastings express-way four lanes. How wonderful you might say. Not that there is any evidence that four lanes will resolve our rush 30 minutes of course, but why let facts get in the way of a good story.
The public response to the petition has been interesting. Whilst it has garnered a fair number of signatures it reminded everyone that the Nats had nine years in government to do something about the express-way and achieved nothing. So the politicians I’ll be watching are the opposition. To see if they can come to the realisation that reminding people in the regions about their do nothing reputation is not the most clever of moves. Thank you Judith & Simon.
Submitted 30 January 2018