National Party leader Christopher Luxon held a public meeting at the Ashburton Event Centre last Thursday.
Over 300 people listened to Luxon talk about what he and his party can offer New Zealanders if National win the election later this year.
The biggest round of applause came when he announced National’s commitment to building the second Ashburton bridge.
Luxon said ‘‘I want to announce today under a National government we are going to start construction of a new bridge for Ashburton in our first term.
‘‘I’ll tell you why I’m passionate about it, cause I’ve travelled from Timaru to Ashburton myself and have got stuck on the bridge at three o’clock in the afternoon, I can tell you it carries 24,000 vehicles everyday that is two and half times more than any other bridge south of Christchurch, that is a critical piece of infrastructure.’’
Law and order is another area in Luxon’s crosshairs. He said National would back the police.
‘‘We’re going to tackle gangs and gang patches in public places, give the police special powers, we’re going to crack down on serious young offenders … if you are 15 to 17 we’re going to give the judge the power to send you to a serious young offenders military academy.’’
Luxon talked about delivering better health and education outcomes for the country.
‘‘What we need to do is invest very strongly in getting the money out of bureaucracy, into the nurses, into the doctors, into the infrastructure we have.’’
Education was the thing Luxon said he is most passionate about. He said he went to a state school in Christchurch, ‘‘I got a great state education that enabled me to go to university, the first of my family to do so … and I want that for every New Zealand kid, I want every five year old to have their shot at the Kiwi dream irrespective of their circumstance and where they have come from.’’
Luxon said New Zealand used to be in the top 10 countries in the world on maths, reading and science. ‘‘Now in maths we’ve gone from forth to 27th in the developed countries of the world.
‘‘We have some work to do, we have to get the country turned around.’’
Luxon said the psychological difference between Labour and National was, ‘‘the Labour party believe in centralization and control, we believe localism and evolution.
‘‘I believe that thereare three actors in our society, there is government, central and local, that sets the frameworks and rules, that enables things to happen.
‘‘There is community and volunteer organisations… that see the pain, the need, the frustration and can deliver services really well to help people, and there is business that move with great speed. Three actors that should be working in partisanship together, ina complementary but different way solving the challenges that we’ve got in the country.’’
Luxon took questions from the floor, one man asked about co-governance and how to remove it.
In reply Luxon talked about Nationals belief system, ‘‘we are one country, the public goods and services we provide are to all New Zealanders… we’re not prepared to have a separate education system, separate health care system, separate criminal justice system… we think that is divisive… if you need it, you get our support and you get access to that public service, it shouldn’t be coming through a lens or gate of ethnicity and race… under the Treaty of Waitangi we are all given equal citizenship.’’