Rain­bows, lol­lipops, smoke and mir­rors

The Tribune (NZ) - - OPINION - PUBLIC MEET­ING NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark holds a public meet­ing in the Globe Theatre at 12.30pm, Fri­day July 24. DAR­ROCH BALL

Now I’m all for city Na­tional listMP Jono Nay­lor send­ing out media re­leases – that’s his job now he is a back-bench MP. But one re­lease en­ti­tled ‘‘poli­cies de­liv­er­ing for fam­i­lies’’ re­ally took the cake.

Jono’s July 1 re­lease talked about free GP vis­its to chil­dren un­der the age of 13. Firstly, it is a great pol­icy. What he fails to men­tion is that it is a New Zealand First pol­icy es­tab­lished in 1996 which the Na­tional party then op­posed.

Last month, New Zealand First’s bill for ‘‘three free GP vis­its for Su­per­Gold Card hold­ers’’ was voted against by Jono him­self. Why the dif­fer­ent vote? Well, Jono’s fel­low Na­tional MPDr Shane Reti ar­gued that there was far too much am­bi­gu­ity when defin­ing what a ‘‘GP visit’’ ac­tu­ally was to sup­port our bill. Re­mark­ably they are able to de­fine a GP visit for chil­dren aged un­der 13 but not for our over 65s.

In the same ar­ti­cle Jono talks about the gov­ern­ment be­ing ‘‘com­mit­ted to giv­ing chil­dren the best start in life’’. It should be noted that he voted against ex­tend­ing paid parental leave to 26 weeks and also voted against the Food in Schools bill.

Jono says that the Bud­get in­creased ben­e­fits for the first time in 40 years. Well done. It was his Na­tional gov­ern­ment in the 1991 ‘‘mother of all Bud­gets’’ that slashed ben­e­fits by around 25 per cent. What about Na­tional’s pre­vi­ous six Bud­gets where there were cuts to wel­fare, so­cial sup­port, ed­u­ca­tion, de­fence, and health?

In another re­lease he states that stu­dents are ‘‘get­ting bet­ter re­sults’’. I have al­ready chal­lenged this gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach to its ‘Bet­ter Public Ser­vice Tar­gets’ he is re­fer­ring to and have a mem­ber’s bill in the bal­lot ask­ing for in­de­pen­dent scru­tiny of them. We can­not con­tinue to have this far­ci­cal sit­u­a­tion whereby Na­tional set their own tar­gets, make their own plan to achieve them, and come up with their own re­sults. It’s like stu­dents set­ting their own test, sit­ting it, then mark­ing them­selves.

He is quick to pro­mote new fund­ing to Massey Univer­sity but where does he stand with uni­ver­sal stu­dent al­lowances? Where does he stand with post­grad­u­ate stu­dent al­lowances? You can’t have your cake and eat it too, Jono.

He says how Palmer­ston North has ‘‘an ad­van­tage in our lo­ca­tion . . . close to mul­ti­ple

ports and a thor­ough­fare for freight trav­el­ling the North Is­land’’. Well not if the gorge is con­tin­u­ously closed due to slips. It costs over more than $60,000 ev­ery day the road is closed and slip re­pairs have cost more than $20 mil­lion in the last five years. Any fund­ing for up­grade from the gov­ern­ment? No. Where is he on this is­sue? ‘‘

Palmer­ston North has got its fair share of is­sues but Jono con­tin­ues to put out his media re­leases like ev­ery­thing is rain­bows and lol­lipops. He needs to front up on be­half of the gov­ern­ment with so­lu­tions to our real prob­lems: empty shops on Broad­way, strug­gling lo­cal char­i­ties; how our health and ed­u­ca­tion in­dus­tries will be af­fected by the TPPA his gov­ern­ment wants to push through in se­cret; proper in­vest­ment in our vi­tal road­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

The chal­lenge to Jono is to stand up for our city. He is the one in gov­ern­ment who can push our cause. Or, he could con­tinue to re­ceive bullet points from his front bench and put out end­less media re­leases that miss the point com­pletely.

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