Last month, all was as expected on the New Zealand political stage. That is, until the Todd Barclay scandal threw a wrench into the mix and kicked off a slew of political headlines. From confessions of benefit fraud and last-minute leadership changes to the recent resignation of two Green Party MPs and party co-leader Metiria Turei, waking up to read the morning's headlines has suddenly become a lot more exciting.
VICE has been travelling around the country canvasing political opinion in the nation's pubs. Today it is the turn of Palmerston North's Brew Union, where we asked locals what they thought of the latest political scandals as we inch closer to the September elections.
Manager at Liquor Land
Do you care about the environment and why?
Yes. We kind of have two options, either we have to leave earth, or we have to fix earth. One is going to cost us a hell of a lot more money than the other one, so I think fix earth is the better option.
There's been a lot of changes in the political parties lately. Is it important to you to vote for a party that's unified?
Maybe not so much important to me, but if you want to do well, yes, you should be unified. How do you get your message straight if you don't have any collaboration? Otherwise you might as well be miniature parties within the same party.
Do you think politicians care enough about you as a younger voter?
Hard to say, because we do have younger politicians and they seem to be more in touch with our base, whereas older ones maybe not so much but, yeah, hard to say.
What's you biggest concern in for the election?
Basically just business policy—that's my biggest concern. How it's going to affect business, what's going to change, tax policies. I'm looking into starting my own business so it's going to be directly influenced by factors like that.
Time for word association. I say something, you say the first thing that comes to mind. First up: Green Party
What does it mean to you to be a Kiwi?
New Zealand's a pretty unique place. It's seen as pretty small and out of the way but we do a lot of stuff with not a lot of stuff. A pretty good can-do attitude. We enjoy a good time.
Are environmental issues important to you?
Yeah absolutely, a sustainable environment definitely. I mean there's no point ruining something that is beautiful, right?
What qualities do you want to see in a party leader?
More appealing and more down to earth. Someone who's actually human and takes stuff on board and understands the people of New Zealand, whereas there's certainly been parties and leaders in the past with a sole agenda, even though New Zealand turns around and says this is ridiculous, why are we doing this? They've become so task-focused they don't actually listen to what's happening. But at the end of the day, you aren't voting for the leader of a party, you're voting for the party's idea on how the country's going to be run.
It sounds stupid but my initial word was "green".
Sustainable. It's what we need, right?
What's going on?
Why should people care about the environment?
We've got the environment which is our tangible life, everything else including the economy and things like that is just made up numbers by us, whereas the environment is what we need to survive.
Does drama within political parties influence who you're going to vote for?
I'm pretty set on the party I'm going to vote for, and I find anything within the last two months or so towards the election is just propaganda. I try to avoid it as much as I can because that's not the real politics. You can look back over decades and see the parties that have made intelligent choices, those who have found the real issues years in advance versus those who have just run the country as it is and into the ground. So I wouldn't change my mind this close to the election.
Does the personality of a party leader matter to you and why?
The leader is going to be the person who's going to be talking to the foreign diplomats and getting our country's reputation out there, so the leader has to be personable and approachable and determined to get what is best for New Zealand out there.
Miles, 20, and Zoe, 21, students
Does all the political drama within the parties affect who you're going to vote for?
Zoe: I feel like right now there's a realignment of the parties happening. It just makes people not really want to vote for either party or confused on who they want to vote for. I consider myself liberal, but the word liberal doesn't mean what I think it should mean anymore.
Miles: I kind of just feel stuck, as well, between places I don't want to be in.
Do politicians care about young people?
Zoe: No, not at all. Politicians only care about people that vote for them, and young people don't vote, apparently, so they don't ever address young people's needs, or very rarely.
Miles: Maybe they go after the people with the money. Like Trump was one of the richest people in the world, and that was definitely a factor of why he got into office. When you have a lot of rich friends, you can help them. And I don't have a lot of money at all—I'm in a lot of debt.
Is the environment important in New Zealand?
Zoe: It's not that people don't care, but I've just noticed there's not much recycling. Just in the school I go to, there's not a lot of energy-saving things, or things like that, but I know there's a big Green Party and that it's moderately powerful.
Miles: Yeah, very much so. it's a very small country and there are a lot of species that are endemic to New Zealand that are not found anywhere else in the world.
Zoe: I forget what her name was. The one that just ran.
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