Real Life

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern answers your questions

Ahead of Election Day on September 23, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern answers questions.
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**Jacinda, your party wishes to make tertiary education free – how will we afford this? Will this policy mean tax hikes?

Concerned, Hamilton**

We do indeed have an aspiration to make the first three years of study free for those who haven’t been through polytech or university before. That’s because we believe we all benefit when we upskill our workforce. We’ve been really careful to cost this one, though, and that is why it is taking us a number of years to phase it in.

**What do you think is the biggest problem facing New Zealand, and if you’re in government, what would you do about it?

Chris (65) Rotorua**

Thanks, Chris. I worry about our next generation. We have a number of plans aimed at giving them opportunities, including work experience and apprenticeship opportunities. And for our families with wee ones, I want to use amazing resources like Plunket to give them more support.

**How do you take your cup of tea?

Jenny (73) Tauranga**

How did you know?! I take it with milk and because I am impatient, it’s always quite weak!

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**While I recognise infrastructure projects in our cities are important, I’m a born-and-bred farmer. What policies would you implement to make life easier and more profitable for farmers and those living rurally?

Denise (48) Waikato**

Hi Denise! I grew up in the Waikato too. A couple of things – one is for rural kids, and that is to give them a chance to get their driver’s licence for free (and five free lessons) while they are at school. There were no public transport options where I grew up, so driving was a necessity. I want to make it easier for kids to do that

(and less expensive for their parents too.) I also want to see greater investment in local infrastructure, so we’re going to increase the contestable fund for local roading projects, for instance. At a national level, I want to make sure we are doing everything we can to pursue new trade opportunities for our dairy community.

**What are the challenges of being a politician?

Cole (13) Auckland**

There are so many good parts to this job, but probably one of the downsides is that it doesn’t really have a time in the day that it ends! Elections bring out a lot

of negative comments and I would like to hear something positive!

**What is one positive quality you think the three other party leaders (Bill English, Winston Peters and James Shaw) would have if they were Prime Minister after the election?

Angela, 49, Auckland**

Good question, Angela! I would say that Bill English is considered, Winston Peters is seasoned and James Shaw is principled.

**What makes you proud to be a New Zealander?

John (41) Dunedin**

We are fair-minded and injustice really bothers us, so we stand up to it, no matter what. That has always made me proud.

**I have a chronic illness and am on the Supported Living Payment. I am able to live at home with my mum but getting by on this benefit is hard. How would you make it easier for people like me to get by financially when we have to be on a benefit long-term?

Alisa Boock (33) Dunedin**

Hi Alisa. I am so sorry to hear that. One thing we have talked about is at the very least easing the pressure in the winter months when people incur more costs to stay well. We will bring in a winter energy payment which will ensure an extra $450 directly to those on government support.

**I have been receiving the pension since 2008 and have noticed how its value has slowly decreased. I have not heard any mention of what [the biggest parties] will do for pensioners?

Percy Browne, (74) Christchurch**

Hi Percy. We will bring in a winter energy payment for those on a pension so that a couple, for instance, will get an additional $700 to help with extra costs. We are also looking at what we can do to make healthcare more accessible too.

**My children are desperately trying to buy a house, but have found themselves firmly priced out of the market. A ridiculous deposit is expected for their first home, which they cannot afford. Do you believe this is a problem and if so, how would you fix it?

Anonymous (56) Auckland**

I absolutely agree. We want to deal with demand by banning foreign buyers from purchasing in our market, close the tax loopholes and get on with building affordable housing that also has extra options – like shared equity and rent to buy – that could help with the deposit issue. Immigration is a hot issue this election.

**What is your policy regarding our increased migration rate and will you put measures in place to slow it down until infrastructure can support such an influx?

Lyn (53) Auckland**

We definitely want to make sure that we get the settings right when it comes to immigration. We know that our economy has really been supported by migrants, but we also need to make sure that they have access to decent work, housing and infrastructure. We have proposed making changes, such as not issuing visas for poor-quality education courses, that we think will make a difference.

**To hear from the other party leaders, click their name below:

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