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Simon and Denise turn the air blue at Edmund Hillary

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on August 28, 2019

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It was really a case of preaching to the converted with a full house gathered at Edmund Hillary to hear National party leader Simon Bridges and fellow MP Denise Lee speak on Friday.

The crowd was even sympathetic to the fact Simon was five minutes late with everyone blaming the usual problem of ‘Auckland traffic’.

Denise filled in the time discussing that very topic: “Auckland traffic is the number one issue that I get contacted about as an MP,” she said.

Simon, who got a laugh when he said he had just had about six coffees after coming from a coffee tasting, started off with a bit of flattery.

“I love retirement villages!” he said. “I was at a retirement village just yesterday and I always say ‘It’s not the years in your life but the life in your years.’”

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Simon continued the wooing by telling the crowd about his background growing up in West Auckland’s Te Atatu Peninsula – “Or ‘Tat North’ as we called it back then!

“I went to Oxford University and got a Masters in Law and that’s where I met my lovely wife Natalie who was doing a Masters in Romantic Poetry.

“She rang her parents to tell them she’d met a very handsome Japanese man!” he joked, getting another big laugh in response.

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After the warm-up it was down to business. Simon’s three priorities for National were health, education and infrastructure but first it would mean sorting out the economy.

Labour had done a terrible job, he said.

“It took Helen Clark three terms to bring it down but these guys have taken just 20 months to get the economy in trouble.”

The recent reduction of the OCR to a new all time low and negative interest rates was something to be ‘very worried about’, he said.

“For all those of you who have worked hard to build yourselves a nest egg it’s like a slap in the face.”

He also criticised the health system under Labour and threw in a dig about the census stuff-up as well.

His answer to Labour’s cancelling the ‘billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure improvements National had set in place was to reinstate them all.

He also had what he described as a ‘radical solution’ to provide an alternative to Labour’s climate tax on farmers.

“Scientists want to modify grasses that would reduce methane and then you wouldn’t have to tax the farmers,” he said.

Handing over to the crowd, it became clear which topics concerned the residents most – health and traffic!

One raised the mounting level of debts in the DHBs saying overseas visitors should present health insurance before treatment.

“No argument from me,” said Simon.

Another woman who said she worked at Greenlane Eye Clinic said ‘a lot of money’ was spent on interpreters for all the people who don’t speak English visiting the clinic.

“Surely people are coming here to use the public system, why aren’t they paying for that?” she asked.

“That’s great feedback,” said Simon, adding that money and performance measures were needed for a health system to go well.

One gentleman stood up and complimented Simon: “First of all there’s nothing wrong with your accent! I’m from West Auckland and it’s a good Kiwi accent!”

Simon thanked him and said he couldn’t help the fact he didn’t go to Kings!

Then the conversation turned back to the traffic, namely the effect that the new shopping centre across the road would have on residents trying to turn right out of the village.

“I totally agree,” said Simon. “I want a strong economy so I can do those three things – health, education and infrastructure.”

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Denise’s team then invited residents to help form a Superblues group at the village with the first meeting being held on 20 September.

Becky thanked them both for coming saying hopefully Simon would return to the village, maybe even as Prime Minister which got a round of applause.

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About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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