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Plain English 26 April 2002

Plain English
A Weekly Update From Bill English, National Party Leader
26 April 2002

National's Workplace policy
National's policy release programme is now in full swing. This morning I released our Workplace policy, which fits in with the plan to raise our economic prospects I released last week.

Our policy is a balanced plan, aimed at more jobs and better productivity. We won't be repealing the Employment Relations Act, but we will be making some practical changes. The policy recognises unions, but doesn't give them a monopoly on collective bargaining. We have accepted good faith and removed some of the prescriptive barriers to open wage bargaining.

You can read the entire policy at

Giving new workers a chance
One of the biggest barriers facing new job seekers is the risk employers perceive about what will happen if things don't work out. We will introduce an optional 90-day trial period, which both parties must agree to, so that when someone takes on a new job either party can terminate the relationship without a grievance claim being brought.

This move maintains current statutory rights. However, it does give people who find it hard getting work - older workers, younger people, migrants, people with disabilities and those trying to get off benefits - a chance to have a go and prove themselves.

Alliance debacle continues
This week in Parliament the Alliance debacle has become more obviously a farce. Laila Harre was elected as Alliance leader last weekend, while Jim Anderton and his colleagues were expelled from the Party. Yet Anderton keeps his position as Leader of the Alliance within Parliament. Anderton has the full support of Helen Clark. They are both working a calculated deception on the House of Representatives and the voters who elected those MPs.

Helen Clark and Jim Anderton campaigned against party hopping and for more integrity and credibility in Government. If the Prime Minister had the integrity the public attribute to her, she would sack Jim Anderton as Deputy Prime Minister.

Veterans policy
This week I released National's Veterans policy, before ANZAC day. We want to give special recognition to our war veterans, and the contribution they have made to our country. National will establish a Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the National War Memorial to recognise those soldiers who gave their lives in conflict, but whose bodies have never been recovered. We weren't aware of the Government's plan for a memorial, and their support is welcome.

A National Government will also introduce a Veterans' Gold Card, which will provide a range of benefits including priority access, where there is established need, to hospital services such as surgical treatment and priority access to Housing New Zealand accommodation. The proposal has been welcomed by the RSA and we will be discussing the details with them.

One standard of citizenship
National will soon release its Treaty of Waitangi policy. The current Government has let the Treaty Settlement process drag on, frustrating both Maori and Pakeha. It's time to move on - all New Zealanders want to see past grievances settled.

I believe we can rebuild the trust between the claimants and the Crown. Our policy will require the Crown to work hard to meet just claims sooner rather than later, and for the claimants to show a willingness to let go of the grievance. I believe it's important to have an open and honest national discussion on these nation-making issues, rather than smothering them in political correctness.

Don Brash to stand for National
I'm delighted that Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash has decided to stand for National in this year's election. National has already attracted some outstanding candidates, like environmentalist Guy Salmon, and it says a great deal about the current strength of the party when high calibre performers are willing to put their names forward.

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