During the election campaign much was made of the apparent “hole” in one party’s fiscal plan. However the real hole was elsewhere – the total lack of attention given to the values that build strong families. Any discussion of this critical issue for our nation was completely missing from debate.
Of course there was plenty of discussion on the problems that have arisen from our broken families – mental health issues, poverty, vulnerable children. However none of it addressed the underlying driver. Instead the debate focused on how much money each party would spend picking up the pieces. Apparently if we just spend more money all will be well. Labour promised a lot more money spent in general on mental health services. National promised more targeted “social investment”.
To deal with immediate problems both may be right. However ultimately a social worker can never replace a father, and a mental health worker can never replace a mother. The most important thing we can do for future generations of New Zealanders is to rebuild strong family life. And that requires being willing to deal with hard issues around which values make for strong families – and which do not.
Sadly none of our current political parties are willing to do that. So the issue remains steadfastly avoided. It is ironic that for a campaign widely considered to be the most interesting and exciting for a long time – the most important issue for our nation never appeared.