So we’re a couple of days on from Saturday night’s results. I’ve had a bit of sleep, which has helped, but I’m still experiencing a roller coaster of emotions.
As the person in our Caucus with overall responsibility for planning and strategy, I am really proud of the job we all – MPs, staff and volunteers – did over the past three years, both in the House and in the community. That performance was solidified in a great campaign. I can’t think of any significant mistakes we made or opportunities we failed to seize. We left everything out on the field, as they say. Our co-leaders did us proud, our candidates represented us really well, our policy announcements were visionary, practical, well delivered and received, and staff and volunteers right around the country delivered a really well-planned and executed campaign.
So first of all, thank you to everyone who was part of this, and everyone who voted for us.
With a week still to run before the election we appeared to be on track to achieve our target of 15%, with a chance of changing the Government. Poll after poll recorded us at historic high levels. So no wonder we all felt such a sense of deflation and disappointment on Saturday night. We expected to have more opportunity to advance sorely-needed good, green change, and instead we will probably have less. The reviews and analyses of how this happened are getting under way now. My own sense is that people who didn’t engage with the substance of the Greenwald/Snowden revelations felt offended that Mr Dotcom was trying to derail National so close to the election. It seemed like a calculated manipulation of democratic process; they didn’t think it was fair and they responded with a sympathy vote for the Government. That’s one theory anyway! There will be plenty of others, and it will be important that we don’t shrink from self-criticism.
But besides pride and disappointment I am also relieved. John Key may have pulled off (pending specials) a first under MMP of being technically able to govern alone. In the same election Labour’s result is their worst in 90 years. Against this tide we have more or less held our ground. At this point it seems we may have lost an MP, but I am hopeful that Steffan will be back once Special votes are counted. Either way, that still places us close to our best ever election performance.
We’ve worked with the Government to get 235,00 houses insulated, ensure there is better management of toxic sites in New Zealand, forced an investigation into the SkyCity deal, as well as playing a key role in getting authorities to investigate ACC privacy breaches. We managed to get NZ Sign Language recognised in the Standing Orders of parliament. Jan Logie’s ‘Everyone needs the right help’ campaign resulted in more funding for the sector and started a select committee inquiry into sexual violence. We lead the opposition in parliament to the GCSB and the Asset Sales. And after years of Green Party pressure, the huge government banking contract will finally be opened up to get better value for money for the New Zealand public instead of sending all the profits to Australian-owned Westpac bank.
We’ll continue to stand up tall on the issues that matter, and work with other parties where we can find common ground. While another term in opposition is not what we wanted we have still delivered the base for us to immediately regroup. We’ll see what gains may be possible with the new government, be the best Opposition we can possibly be, and change the Government in 2017!