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Interview: David Bennett

*The following written interview was printed in Issue 18, ‘Nexus Gets Political’, a week prior to the video interview above. 

NEXUS: Hi David, it’s great to be able to talk to you. How has your campaigning been going? 

This campaign has been very different from past campaign. The current and previous COVID lockdowns have changed the process of campaigning and also disrupted a normal campaign. Regardless of these challenges, there is a growing mood amongst the community to discuss and decide on the political issues that confront New Zealand at this time.  

NEXUS: With the recent lockdowns and gathering limits, how has this affected your campaign? How have you adapted?

The lockdown has meant we’ve had to adapt. We’ve been doing a lot of phone calling checking in with how people are dealing with the COVID restrictions and discussing the issues concerning them. 

NEXUS: The Hamilton East electorate is your baby, right? You’ve won it over with your far superior pens for many years now, do you see a comfortable victory coming? Why/why not?

Elections are never easy and we work hard to deliver for the residents of Hamilton East. In the past we have delivered the Waikato Expressway, High Schools in Rototuna, an upgrade to Waikato Hospital and Hamilton was the first city to get the ultra-fast fibre rollout. We also have a strong plan ahead for the city with the extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Piarere, the Southern Links Roading project and have been advocating hard for a potential Waikato Medical School. It’s difficult to predict election results, but my pens certainly are popular especially with students. 

NEXUS: We’ve seen this year that National has gone through a bit of a leadership crisis, do you think your party has sorted this out now? 

It is a common predicament for opposition political parties to go through renewal and change. This happens as political parties find their feet after a period of Government and also to build a team to become Government. We have been through this process and have a very strong team and it has a great leader in Judith Collins who will be a fantastic PM for NZ. 

NEXUS: Whenever I scroll through the comments of an article of someone criticizing the Government for border failures I see a lot of people saying “it would have been worse under National”, what would you have to say to them about that?

I doubt many people would consider that Labour could do a better job in border protection than National. First of all, National has a strong policy around border protection. This will include creating a border protection agency, testing international travellers before they enter New Zealand and widening the availability of testing nationwide. Secondly, Labour has a history of failure from Kiwibuild to Light Rail. They are great at spin and reviews but they struggle with detail and decision making. National is strong on these issues and so we would be much more efficient as a Government in protecting the border.  

NEXUS: What are your thoughts on the Resource Management Act? Is it something that will get in the way of us recovering from the current recession?

The RMA is no longer fit for purpose. We need an entirely new framework to ensure we can develop housing and infrastructure faster and cheaper whilst also protecting our environment and the interests and input of Tangata Whenua. 

NEXUS: Let’s talk about the culture of parliament for a bit. Chloe Swarbrick has labeled it as toxic, we’ve seen MPs outed for sexual misconduct and affairs. What are your thoughts on it? Do you think it’s toxic? 

It’s interesting Chloe calls the culture toxic when she is part of the Green Party which has been shown to be one of the most disruptive, conflicted and less than honourable parties in Parliament. The recent ‘Green School Affair’ shows the issues the Green Party currently faces. Politics is a combative part of our community as people hold strong views in all different ways, but I don’t believe it’s a toxic environment. 

NEXUS: How has it been for you? When you first came in you were a youngish, single man for two terms. Looking back on it, do you think there’s anything you would have done differently?

Of course everyone would do some things differently in life, but it’s not life if we don’t learn along the way. I am very honoured to have been the MP for Hamilton East and will continue to learn about myself and others as I work towards delivering a strong future for the electorate and its constituents. 

NEXUS: Are there any ‘Lees-Galloway’ moments you worry about? 

No, politics is a robust career and politicians need to be able to accept criticism and critique and move forward for the best interests of their communities.  

NEXUS: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions David, good luck with the rest of your campaign..

Cheers and all the best to Nexus and it’s readership.  

NEXUS: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions David, good luck with the rest of your campaign..

Cheers and all the best to Nexus and it’s readership.  

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