I accept that elections are increasingly becoming like beauty pageants for politicians: they put on a bit of lippy, pose for the cameras, try to avoid tripping over in public. But you’d expect their answers to be better than “world peace”.

Except, they’re not.

Recently, the four biggest parties have been let down on the policy front. And, before letting the word “policy” make your eyes glaze over, remember that’s just another word for “plans”, and plans one day become real trains, classrooms or money in your pocket.

It’s hard to decide which party is most deserving of first mention, so I’ll start with the biggest.

National should be ashamed of its bootcamp policy.

This is the party’s plan to send 150 of our most hardcore young crims to the army for a good going over. Except, the going over seems to be more of a “going over maths homework” than a pull-them-into-line going over. Which is a good thing.

But it makes you wonder why the Beehive needed to dress it up as a bootcamp? Was it Throwback Thursday that day? The idea failed in 1971, the 1980s and 2009.

The only answer is that National is trying to appeal to the fuddy duds who still believe a good clobbering is all the little shits need.

Labour shouldn’t feel too smug given the half-baked water policy it served up last week.

Here’s a simple summary of Labour’s water policy: we’ll charge a royalty on water use, but we’re not sure how much, we’ll give some of the money to Maori but we’re not sure how much, and we’re not sure how it’ll work but we’ll figure that out in the first 100 days of government.

There is no excuse for announcing a plan that isn’t a plan. Bottled water exports have been an issue since at least October last year, more than enough time to come up with a decent solution.

Instead, Maori have reason to worry, farmers have reason to worry and cabbage-lovers have reason to worry.

Over at Winston HQ – or what I like to call the 1970s – there are some real clangers of terrible ideas.

The best one thus far is to recarpet all government buildings and state houses with New Zealand wool carpets. Where to even start on the stupidity of artificially propping up the wool market?

Can you imagine how expensive this unnecessary renovation would be?

And can someone tell Winston Rob Muldoon is not the Prime Minister anymore? Protectionism stopped being fashionable in 1984.

Finally, among all the kerfuffle over Metiria Turei’s benefit fraud admission, you might have missed the Green Party’s benefit announcement: lift benefit levels by 20 per cent, cancel time limits on taking the benefit, and cancel all work obligations.

If that happened, we would be cleaning up the mess for decades. It is a recipe for how to create a benefit trap and embed intergenerational welfare dependency.

So far the best ideas are coming from outside of Parliament: this week’s rapid regional rail proposal from transport advocates Greater Auckland, and a grab bag of evidence-based policies from Gareth Morgan.

Kiwis deserve better than the rubbish policy ideas from our MPs.

For too long now we’ve lived with incrementalism: small policy changes designed to avoid rocking the boat too much. John Key’s Government did it. Helen Clark’s did, too.

Now, we’re stuck with a barely coping transport infrastructure, not enough houses, an old-world tax system, a strained health budget, kids running amok in dairies and countless other unresolved issues.

We could use some bold plans. Let’s hope the so-called ideas get better before election day.