A former Inland Revenue Department employee is campaigning on a platform of tax reform and a better deal for Tauranga in his home electorate.
Merivale man Hugh Robb has thrown his hat into the ring for this year's general election, hoping to unseat thee-term National Party stalwart Simon Bridges.
Father of three Hugh, who was born and bred in Tauranga, says he's been long frustrated with the main parties.
“I don't think they've been truthful with us, and I think Tauranga has been a safe National seat for too long. We've almost been treated with contempt, because they know we're going to elect a National candidate every time.”
For him, the fact Tauranga has two toll roads is an example of the National government taking the electorate for granted.
“Our roads contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the national economy, so I don't know why we have to pay tolls on them.”
That's the big local issue for Hugh. Nationally, he's very interested in tax reform, and would like to see GST increased to around 25 per cent, offset by a reduction in personal income tax.
He estimates such a policy will give people ‘five or six thousand dollars a year more' in their pocket. It would also catch tax evaders and tourists.
“Tourists come to our country and use our goods and services. If they pay 25 per cent GST, they're contributing tax like the rest of us. It's the same with criminals who don't declare their income, or people doing cash jobs – they still have to buy goods and services.”
Some might question Hugh's chances, though. There are other candidates campaigning in Tauranga who don't stand a chance of winning – such as those from the Greens and ACT. But they've been honest about seeking the party vote only. Likewise, fellow independent candidate Rusty Kane knows he doesn't have a shot, but is using his campaign as a way to highlight what he sees as the flaws in our electoral system.
Hugh's under no illusions. The 53-year-old knows it's a long shot.
“I'm realistic enough to know my chances of winning are pretty small, but you never know you're luck. I'm hoping people see National have been disloyal to Tauranga, and they can have a representative for Tauranga who loves the city and will stand up for it.”
So where do his loyalties lie? Does he lean more towards National, or Labour? And if, by some miracle, he wins Tauranga – and by an even greater stretch of the imagination, becomes the parliamentary kingmaker – which party would he support?
“I would support whoever forms the government,” he says. “But I can't really say unless it happens.
“I'd actually like to see a New Zealand First/Greens/TOP/ACT coalition. New Zealand First and the Green Party both have parliamentary experience, and I think ACT and TOP have very sound, fiscally conservative policies.
“In fact, I think National and Labour should go into coalition – most New Zealanders vote for them, and they have very minor differences.”
Voters still have time to contemplate their decision, with voting closing at 7pm on Saturday September 23. See here for a list of advance voting places in Tauranga.
2017 Tauranga Candidates
Joseph Borell – Maori
Simon Bridges – National
Emma-Leigh Hodge – Green
Jason Jobsis – Democrats
Rusty Kane – Independent
Yvette Lamare – Independent
Clayton Mitchell – NZ First
Stuart Pedersen – ACT
Ben Rickard – United Future
Hugh Robb – Independent
Jan Tinetti – Labour