I, like many others, had given up hope after Election Night. I honestly didn’t think there was any chance that NZ First would form a coalition with Labour. I thought the government was dead, metaphorically. But now, weeks later – resurrection!
I’m not politically astute. I don’t fully understand all the machinations that lead to the formation of the current government. I know the basics: we have an MMP system, which allowed there to be a coalition, and the result is we now have a female Labour MP as our Prime Minister. That’s a pretty bloody good outcome, in my book.
No, it’s not perfect, and I’ve seen a lot of very cynical opinions about this outcome from both the left and the right. But honestly, I’m giving myself a moment to be be happy. Deeply, deeply relieved and happy.
Do you have any idea what, as a chronically ill female beneficiary, another three years under a National government would have looked like for me? I’m being very selfish here, I know. But I imagine I’m not the only one who is feeling like their head is no longer on the chopping block.
Vulnerable minorities, under a National government, would have suffered. I can only speculate, but I know what there wouldn’t have been.
- There wouldn’t have been money funneled back into the mental health system which desperately needs it
- There wouldn’t have been the possibility of welfare reform and the removal of benefit sanctions, which is a Greens policy that’s now on the table
- There wouldn’t have been a promised referendum on legalization of marijuana
- There wouldn’t have been money being poured into fixing poverty, homelessness, and unhealthy homes
These are just some key points, out of an email from the Greens to their members. We don’t know yet what Ministerial roles the Greens may get or who might step into them, and we don’t know what the exact agreement between the Greens and Labour looks like. But the Greens are going to be supporting Labour in Government and that can only be a good thing.
I am actually quite overcome with emotion when I think about two of the points above. One is welfare reform, which was something Metiria Turei fought so hard and paid the price for. I want her work and mana to be acknowledged and woven into whatever changes happen. She brought this to the forefront and I will be forever thankful, as will so many of us who deal with the current WINZ system. Any change will be good change. Who knows, maybe benefits might become enough money to actually live on.
The second is the cannabis referendum. A few years ago, I was firmly against legalization of marijuana. I believed it could only be an addictive, harmful substance used in the same way as alcohol (which I continue to believe is an addictive, harmful substance). I admit that I was wrong. As someone with an extremely painful chronic illness, I now see things very differently. There are a lot of people suffering, whom medical cannabis products can help. There’re people dying for god’s sake, whose pain can be alleviated, and, at the moment, the law stands between them and relief. It’s untenable and unethical and I’m so glad that this issue is one that is going to be resolved.
Again, it’s hard to communicate the euphoria I feel over this sudden change of events. The possibilities now seem endless. Am I hopelessly naiive? Probably. Would I prefer to be cynical? Absolutely not. Maybe I’m going to be let down, but I’d like to give this a chance before I start listing the negatives.
Yesterday, I had very little hope. I was just planning to batten down the hatches, look after myself and my friends as best I could, and get us through the next three years.
Today, I live in a different country. I live in a country lead by a woman who has done an outstanding job so far and looks set to continue. I live in a country where people, our health, and our environment are being taken seriously and taken care of. I live in a country I’m proud to call home.
Yep. Hopeless naiive. And happy with it.