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One on one with Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges is a New Zealand politician and has been a Member of Parliament for Tauranga since the 2008 election. He is best known as being the Leader of the New Zealand National Party and Leader of the Opposition since 27 February 2018. We talk to Bridges about his life, leadership and views.

What does a day in the life of Simon Bridges look like?

The thing about being Leader of the Opposition is that no single day is the same. Some days I am in Parliament holding the Prime Minister to account, some days I am travelling the country meeting hardworking New Zealanders and some days, if I’m lucky, I’m in Tauranga with my family and dealing with local constituency issues. Most days start early, often with media interviews.  If I’m at Parliament, I will be talking with colleagues around the pressing issues in their portfolios, meeting with industry, and developing policy so we are ready to govern if we have the privilege to do so in 2020. Somewhere in the middle of that I will call my wife Natalie for a chat or Skype the kids.

How do you think society can better support our senior citizens?

I think older people should be recognised and respected for their contribution to New Zealand. Making our country a comfortable place to grow old is a team effort. I know I make it a priority for my kids to spend time with their grandparents but not everyone has that luxury. That’s why I think we should especially take meaningful and effective action against elder abuse and social isolation. Having a strong economy and safer communities by being tough on crime, all contribute to ensuring our senior folks are supported.

What are your party objectives regarding senior citizens?

National believes in a fair system which will help seniors have a comfortable retirement. We’ve committed to ensuring superannuation remains sustainable by progressively increasing the age of
entitlement from 65 to 67 starting in 2037. This acknowledges our increased life expectancy and still means Kiwis can expect to receive superannuation for a quarter of their life on average.  We’ve also proposed to increase the required residency for a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident from 10 to 20 years. I think most New Zealanders will agree that you should be here for a reasonable amount of time before collecting Super and we think 20 years is more reasonable than 10. Seniors should have confidence in the health system to support them, so National has also committed to funding an independent Cancer Agency and setting up a $200 million fund dedicated to cancer drugs, if elected in 2020.

What are the top three values that you think are most important to a happier New Zealand?

Having a happy life means having confidence in your ability to support yourself and your family, and flexibility to do this in a way that works for you. The top three values I think contribute to that are hard work, individual freedom and equality of opportunity.

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