Real Life

National Party leader Bill English answers your questions

Ahead of Election Day on September 23, National Party leader Bill English answers your questions.
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**What are the challenges of being a politician?

Cole (13) Auckland**

Being a politician means juggling lots of things at once. Striking a balance between competing priorities is tricky, but very rewarding when you get it right. Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the most important skills is just to listen to what people have to say.

**Two years ago, National allowed the maximum weight of a truck to increase from 44 tonnes to 55 tonnes. Since then, I have noticed significant new damage to State Highway 1 between Wellington and Auckland. What is National planning to do about the worsening condition of SH1?

Robin Rutherford**

We’re investing a lot of money in improving our roads and we’re going to continue to do so. We’ve just announced we’ll be spending $10 billion building 10 more state-of-the-art highways so you can get to places more quickly and more safely.

**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 [Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters and James Shaw] would have if they were prime minister after the election?

Angela (49) Auckland**

Like me, I think Jacinda Ardern wants to make the world a better place. Winston Peters has a lot of experience. James Shaw seems like a decent bloke.

**Shortly after the Christchurch earthquakes, you said that they would have a positive impact on the New Zealand economy. To what extent would you say that the country’s current economic state is influenced by EQC and other insurance funding, and the subsequent boost of economic activity generated by the Christchurch re-build?

Patricia Fenton, Whangarei**

The Christchurch rebuild has provided some economic stimulus, but we’d much rather it had been created another way. There are many reasons New Zealand is performing better than most other developed countries. One of them is that New Zealanders have become very good at adapting to changes in international trading conditions.

**How do you take your cup of tea?

Jenny (73) Tauranga**

English breakfast with milk or peppermint without milk.

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

Percy Browne (74) Christchurch**

Since 2008, the value of superannuation has increased by about twice the rate of inflation because the average wage to which it is linked has risen by about twice the rate of inflation. In dollar terms, the married rate has increased $160 a week since 2008 and will go up another $13 a week next April. The single rate has increased by $104 over the same period and will go up about $8 next April.

**Why should we persuade our parents to vote for you?

Matthew (11) Auckland**

Because we know how to do the job and because we have exciting policies to make New Zealand an even better place. Caring is easy. The hard bit is making a difference and we’ve shown we know how to do that.

**How do you balance your career and your family?

Natalie (50) Wellington**

With a lot of understanding and generosity on the part of my wife Mary and our six children. Family is very important to me and I make a big effort to go home from Parliament for dinner, watch the kids play sport and get to important events. I also try to help around the house, but inevitably there are times when politics gets in the way. That’s when the understanding and generosity comes into play.

**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**

The provinces are critical to our long-term future. We’re making big investments in ultra-fast broadband, roading, education and health in the regions, and we’re not imposing extra costs on them with things like water taxes. Just because you live in Kurow or Ruatoria doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be connected to the wider world or that your children shouldn’t have the same opportunities as kids in New York or that other centre of international commerce, Dipton.

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

John (41) Dunedin**

Seeing the Black Ferns triumph on the world stage, seeing the confident, articulate and capable youngsters we are turning out, seeing our businesspeople take on and beat the best in the world, and seeing the vibrant, culturally diverse society we have become. We are a confident, resourceful, dynamic people living in a unique environment.

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

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