“Election time is akin to a job interview for us,” laughs seasoned politician Ruth Dyson. “We get a bit insecure.”
A Member of Parliament since 1993, including nine years as a Minister, Mrs Dyson visited east Auckland on Monday, at the invitation of Labour candidate for Botany, Tofik Mamedov.
Dropping in at the Times office for a chat, the Labour Party MP for Port Hills reflects about being at the centre of an electorate ravaged by earthquakes in 2011.
“When there is an aftershock we often find ourselves guessing ‘is this a magnitude 3.8 or a 4.3 quake’? We are so used to it that now it is like a game, and who gets the closest guess,” she says.
There is more light-hearted banter about a problem that commuters have to deal with on a daily basis. “Driving in the city is like adventure tourism. You don’t know which road will be closed,” she says.
“The positive is that a lot of Christchurch is beautifully rebuilt and it will be the newest city in the world.”
In east Auckland, after having visited the Pakuranga Park Village, Baptist Retirement Village, Grey Power committee meeting and Bruce McLaren Retirement Village in the first half of the day, Labour’s Senior Citizens spokesperson says that seniors in the area have broken away from stereotypes.
“There was a lot of excitement and they were having so much fun at the Bruce McLaren Village playing table- tennis, scrabble and on the greens,” she smiles.
Mrs Dyson says most seniors had a common generational vent — they were concerned about the future of their grandchildren.
“They were all worried that a generation of New Zealanders are being locked out of home ownership and this leaves them very vulnerable in the rental housing market, paying very large portions of their income in rent,” she says.
“Locals told me that they were frustrated that the Budget gave people on high incomes a tax cut but there was nothing being done to address the housing crisis.”
In terms of finding a solution, she suggests that Government should work towards stopping property speculation. “Also stop non-New Zealand residents from buying houses,” she says.
“I do believe it is the responsibility of the government to build more houses and make it easier in terms of zoning and resource consent. It’s sad that the current government is offering future generations less than previous generations had during their life.”
Having met seniors at local retirement homes with Mr Mamedov, the former president of the Labour Party rushes back to a packed schedule of visiting schools, early childhood centres, residents’ associations and meeting people in her electorate. All in a 15-hour day.