Tim Costley

By Geoffrey Churchman

On meeting Tim Costley he impresses as being just about all you could want in an MP – intelligent (he has a Master’s degree in International Defence and Security, a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematical Physics and a Diploma in Business), World-wise, aware of the challenges facing today’s young families (he and his wife have three daughters), tall (6’4”), good looks (which help gain media notice); but most importantly, he has a genuine interest in helping people, which as a rescue helicopter pilot in the Air Force, he has done in a way that few could.

The Air Force provided him with a range of varied experience, from combat zones — dodging sniper fire and rockets from the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, rescue missions — to working for members of the British Royal Family, primarily William and Kate.

Over coffee in Mahara Place, we talked about the issues that not only concern all Kiwis, but specifically those that apply to our area.

He says he’s standing because he believes the country can do better, that there are greater things to come for our towns and regions. “I want my three daughters to grow up with hope for the future, knowing there is a pathway to a decent job, knowing they will be able to have a roof over their head and a safe community for their families to live in, knowing that if they work hard they can do well in New Zealand. I want them to live in a country with world-class public services funded by a strong economy. I’m standing because I’ve played my part through the Air Force, but we need good, strong, competent people representing us, and I’m willing to stand up and offer to do that for our community.”

That might be seen as a standard ambition for politicians generally, but what does he see as the biggest local issues that he will need to address as the MP for Otaki?

He says his focus will be:

  • Jobs: “The next three years will be tough for New Zealand. We were heading into a recession before Covid-19 came along, but now it looks even more bleak with 160,000 jobs likely lost by Christmas. In May, 37,500 jobs were lost — the highest number since records began. This is going to be a huge challenge for us. The April job figures showed we lost almost 2000 in our region and there is worse to come. We need positive ideas to protect jobs, create jobs and give hope to those who have lost jobs.”

  • Transport: The National Party believes in building the Ōtaki to north of Levin (Ō2NL) Expressway, with four lanes open to all vehicles, and not waiting until 2029 to do it. “We will build the road and give certainty to those affected land owners. I’m also fighting to get the dropping by this government of the Peka Peka Interchange reversed so traffic can enter and exit in both directions, a huge win for Peka Peka and Te Horo (once the PP2Ō expressway is complete). We also need commuter rail north of Waikanae, and I’m working on an announcement on our transport plan in the coming weeks.” Readers will have seen Cr Gwynn Compton’s proposals for extending electric trains north of Waikanae, but Tim has even greater desires: “That proposal only goes to Otaki in phase one, but I think we need to push for Levin. Better transport links are a factor in both our transport and infrastructure package, and also our health plan.” Updates are to come.

  • Education: “National has promised to build a new Primary School in Waikanae, and is the only Party that has allocated funding for the school; Labour has left the Ministry of Education to look for land for 2028 with no funding allocated. National will build the school starting this next term.”

  • Health: “access to health services in our community is a real challenge. Transport to acute services in Palmerston North and Wellington is difficult, and there are not enough day services in our community. National’s health announcements will be made soon, but I’m fighting for more day services in our community and better triaging of Emergency needs close to home, coupled with better transport links to acute services.”

  • Environment: “I want my kids to to be able to bring up their families one day in the same beautiful environment I was bought up in. One thing I’m really passionate about is restoring the Manawatu River Loop in Foxton, and I’m fighting to get phase one across the line quickly.”

What issues for the country particularly motivate him?

“My motivation is to serve my community. I want to tackle the growing divides between rich and poor, urban and rural, big metropolitan cities and struggling regions, educated and uneducated, university degrees and trades and apprenticeships. While my background is in defence and security, my experience is really broad, and one of my biggest strengths is my ability to work across almost any area; to be able to quickly adapt to new topics, learn fast, understand and respect the culture and customs of that part of our community, and then be able to lead effectively through the challenges that may lie ahead.”

Tim says that as a really tangible example, he joined the Air Force to fly helicopters, but was also the sole Kiwi in Papua New Guinea planning elections in 2012. He ran disaster relief operations in Fiji after Cyclone Winston, he evacuated Rena when it ran aground, “I was deployed to Afghanistan, did search and rescue in New Zealand as well as other humanitarian operations. He also did operational tours peace-keeping in East Timor and the Solomon Islands. I was not specifically trained to do many of these tasks, but I was selected for my ability to quickly adapt to the new task and new environment, and be able to work well in tough situations. So while I’m passionate about education, police, defence, transport and infrastructure, whatever issues constituents may bring into my office, they will find in me someone who is willing to listen, able to understand, and can fight for them to get the results they deserve.”

And what does he see as being the biggest shortcomings/failures of the present government? Unsurprisingly, there are several that he lists:

  • Jacinda Ardern and her Government promised 100,000 Kiwibuild houses. She’s only delivered 395.

  • Jacinda Ardern and her Government promised $1.9 billion spent on mental health. She’s only spent $0.02 billion

  • Jacinda Ardern and her Government promised light rail in Auckland. Nothing has been delivered.

  • Jacinda Ardern and her Government promised to increase the age for free breast-cancer screen to 74, but has done nothing about it.

  • Jacinda Ardern and her Government promised more tertiary education engagement by spending $2.5 billion on ‘fees free’, and the result is fewer people engaged.

  • Jacinda Ardern and her Government promised a $100 million Green Investment Fund, but as of May had not spent anything.

  • Jacinda Ardern and her Government promised to reduce child poverty, but it has only got worse.

  • Jacinda Ardern and her Government promised world class contact-tracing, testing and quarantine. Yet when it went completely wrong the incompetent David Clark blamed Ashley Bloomfield and the Prime Minister didn’t front, didn’t fire him, and won’t take any action.

“Put simply, Labour talks big, promises the world, and can’t deliver even 1 per cent of what they promise. It might sound nice, but we can’t trust them to deliver and we can’t trust them to rebuild New Zealand from the Covid-19 pandemic. National has the team and the ideas to deliver for all New Zealanders,” says Tim.

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