Opinion: Budget leak shows how shamefully out of touch modern politicians are

OPINION: While the Budget leak saga played out like a schoolyard argument over who kicked the ball through the window, did any of the taxpayer-paid politicians involved wonder what was best for New Zealand?

Did Simon Bridges, who had details on Labour's landmark Wellbeing Budget in his excited little hands, wonder if leaking those details was best for the voters who elected him? Or did he just spot the opportunity to land one on the opposition and screw the consequences?  

And Grant Robertson, another experienced politician whose department has unwittingly revealed the details of what should be a closely kept secret, has been largely invisible since the saga began.

Robertson has preferred to communicate instead via press release. I know he is busy preparing for the Budget, but he also has a duty to front up and answer questions the people who elected him want answering.

No Government minister - as both National and Labour ministers have done  - should go AWOL when there are serious questions that need answering.     

And when the kids in the playground scrap calm down, we will be left with the fact Treasury had poor security systems and was too casual with important information. Something I am sure is easily fixed, and could have been sorted without becoming a political football.  

It has been embarrassing to watch both sides trying to score points off each other in what is a relatively inconsequential affair.

Bridges will claim a victory in this sorry saga but it is a Pyrrhic victory -  where the cost of victory was so high it was not worth it.

The cost for Bridges could still very well be his leadership as he has once again shown he is not a leader.

The public interest, and where Bridges' tactic fell down, was not in the details of the leak, but the fact the Budget had been so easily accessed. National could have genuinely scored points if they had just revealed they had found the documents.

Here is the thing I think politicians have forgotten - they are elected to represent the people who elected them. It is that simple.

Instead, politics, particularly where two parties dominate, is just about getting elected and re-elected.

The recent dropping by Labour of Capital Gains Tax showed that votes count more than integrity and actually standing by a policy you believe in - even if it means losing an election.

I understand politics is adversarial and there will be conflict, but voters are getting tired of seeing scenes like we witnessed yesterday, or witnessed last year with the Jami Lee-Ross saga, where once again politics' cynical underbelly was exposed.

The often used line of holding the Government to account is not the major function of the opposition. That is the media and ultimately the voting public's role. If we don't like a Government then we will vote them out.

National have been consistently poor losers since they lost the election, and spend too much time trying to trip up the Government and not enough time telling the voter what they would do better.   

Labour is not much better. They have demonstrated all those years in opposition left them woefully unprepared for Government, when every move you make is scrutinised and dissected by the media.

New Zealand is not unique here, just look at the UK and the disasterous handling of Brexit. This was a referendum that was originally proposed to shore up support for David Cameron. The mess that followed the vote to leave the EU, has been used by politicians on both sides of the Houses of Parliament to shore up their own positions.

The needs of the British people have been left far behind.

Mark Longley is the managing editor of Newshub Digitial

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