Saturday, March 19, 2005

(Media/National) It's coming unstuck for the 'Teflon' PM - Thomas

(Simon Edwards, Hutt News; 15 March 2005)

For a time in the mid-1990s, Rosemarie Thomas stood with the Christian Heritage and Democrat parties. But she says she's never given up her dream of being a Parliamentarian for the Hutt, “which has been home for such a long time”.

Her roots with National go right back to 1968, when she joined the Young Nats while still at school.

She took on Paul Swain in Eastern Hutt in 1990 and achieved the third highest swing in a Labour held seat in the country, missing out by fewer than 1000 votes.

“I've been committed to centre right politics for all my life.” Thomas says.

Isn't centre right essentially the thrust of the current Government too? “They would try to make themselves appear that way but they are a very left wing government they way they increase taxes and with their liberal moral agenda – though there are some people on the right who support these issues (civil unions, etc).

“Labour has a very extreme agenda for New Zealand”.

Extreme? “Helen Clark is quite dictatorial in what she has done.” The Privy Council was abolished with little or no consultation; people are concerned by the delay in naming the new Governor General, the PM is pushing us down the path of Republicanism , and a new flag without nearly enough consultation, Thomas says.

Just a year ago, Helen Clark was “the Teflon woman” - nothing stuck. “You can't say that now.”

People are angry that Labour said six years ago there would be no new taxes “but it's the biggest joke.” There's the new petrol tax and so many more people are being caught but the tax for earning more than $60,000 that was ever envisaged.

In her work as an immigration consultant since 1991, she has helped bring in so many skilled migrants to plug holes in our workforce. “But that's because we're losing so many of our young people.” With student loans and the prospect of better wages, lower taxes, they're going to Australia and Europe and staying there.

Thomas says her major drive in the election campaign will be to chase the party vote for National, “because it's the party vote that will change the government”. But she also contends that Mallard is vulnerable. She claims that there's still a lot of bitterness in Wainuiomata about the enforced school amalgamations, and the Stokes Valley/Kamahi Schools angst is far from being sorted.

So many of our schools that were closed are idle and mouldering – land backed for Treaty settlements, “I believe in one standard of citizenship for all New Zealanders – and I believe that will help Maori. The sooner all people are treated equally, the better for everyone.”

The NCEA is riddled with problems, the scholarship debacle alone serious enough to have required Mallard to resign, Thomas says. “Young people have been devastated ny what has happened... their year wasted.”

Local hospital waiting lists are up.

Thomas says on her door knocking campaign rounds she strikes so may people, especially the elderly, with three locks and bolts on their doors. “There are people who live in total fear.” Crimes of violence keep rising in Hutt City and nationally.

While flooding is predominantly a local government issue, Mallard and his government was notable for its absence with the two serious floods that hit this city in the last two years. Thames and the Horowhenua got some limited help; the Hutt was virtually ignored, Thomas claims/

“We were the poor cousins compared to some other parts of the country. (Flooding) is a council issue, but Government got involved up north.”