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In the midst of a recession and a cost of living crisis, rising unemployment rates, and businesses collapsing like dominoes, the news that New Zealand MPs are about to receive fatter pay packets comes as a slap in the face to struggling citizens. It begs the question: is this a wise move in the current climate, where every dollar counts and trust in politicians is at an all-time low?

Politics stands alone as a profession where qualifications are not prerequisites for positionsof immense responsibility, which affect people of an entire nation. Yet, paradoxically, it is one of the most lucratively compensated fields. This dissonance is glaring, especially when juxtaposed against the backdrop of the everyday struggles of ordinary Kiwis.

Let’s confront the uncomfortable truth: trust in politicians is eroding, and for good reason.

Recent headlines have been rife with stories of MPs embroiled in controversies ranging from shoplifting convictions and driving and crashing vehicles under the influence to threatening behaviour towards fellow elected members on the floor of parliament, to mention only a few. Such behaviour not only undermines public confidence but also raises serious doubts about the judgment and integrity of those elected to serve the nation.

In addition to the concerning behaviour of individual MPs, the broader actions of the coalition government have exacerbated the challenges faced by ordinary citizens. Their binge on cutting government funding and jobs will likely have a devastating impact, particularly in essential services like childcare, education, and healthcare—pillars of
wellbeing for the people. These cuts have not only resulted in job losses but have also compromised the quality and accessibility of crucial services, leaving vulnerable populations without the support they desperately need. At a time when access to healthcare and education should be safeguarded, the government's short-sighted austerity measures have only deepened the sense of insecurity and despair among New Zealanders.

The ruling coalition government’s popularity has plummeted just five months into their tenure—a telling sign of widespread disillusionment with their performance. From failing to tackle the law and order crisis, particularly concerning retail crime and youth offending, to implementing austerity measures that have decimated government funding and jobs, the government’s track record is marred by missteps and what are beginning to be perceived as
broken promises.

First appeared in the 2 May 2024 issue of the Indian Weekender.