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Jim Anderton Speech To Buller Grey Power

Jim Anderton MP

Leader of the Progressive Coalition

Buller Grey Power

- announcement of major regional initiatives extension

11 am

Friday, 12 July 2002

Buller Grey Power

Buller Working Mens Club Social Room

The election is just over two weeks away.

It has been a busy campaign and I have already visited 14 regions since the election was called.

There are negatives and positives in election campaigns.

Mailboxes are filled with brochures.

Streets are lined with billboards.

Television is filled up with party political ads that make television shopping channels look appealing.

(I can say that because the Progressive Coalition hasn’t got any TV advertising.)

However, election campaigns focus the mind.

People are discussing the sort of New Zealand we want.

The Progressive Coalition is making a number of commitments.

What I think is important is making New Zealand everything it can be. It is about ensuring our future stays in New Zealand hands. It is about preserving our land and our economic future.

There are many things that have been achieved in this term of Government.

Unemployment is the lowest it has been in 14 years.

There are 104,000 more jobs than when we were elected.

There are 3000 modern apprentices and my party is committed to increasing this to 6000 by 2005.

I also am committed to ensuring we have 100,000 people in skills training by 2005 up from the 68,000 we have now.

This Government has been committed to making our economy stronger.

That is why establishing the locally owned Kiwibank, with 300 branches, has been such an important step. All the profits from the Kiwibank stay in New Zealand.

Kiwibank branches serve their local economies.

There was a view from National and ACT MPs that Kiwis can’t run banks. Kiwis can do anything.

This Coalition Government has established the first programme to build our regions in nearly three decades.

It is long overdue.

All of New Zealand is now part of the Government’s regional partnership programme.

This means that in each region there is a partnership between key regional players, including local authorities, communities, iwi and businesses.

All 26 regions are now working on developing major regional initiatives based on the shared direction developed through a local regional development plan.

Already $4.4 million has been allocated.

Each region is then able to nominate a major regional initiative which the Government will partner.

There have been four major regional initiatives funded. These are the Waikato Innovation Centre, the Rotorua-based Forestry Centre of Excellence, the Wine Centre of Excellence in Blenheim, and most recently the Food Processing Centre of Excellence in Hawke’s Bay.

I am announcing today that every region should get a major $2 million initiative every three years.

It seems to me we need to continue to build our regions. There isn’t a point at which we can stop and say they have all the facilities they need.

We need to keep working on building each local economy.

Local people need to be supported in creating jobs and building business.

The future of New Zealand lies in the hands of New Zealanders.

While we can learn from other nations and work with them, only New Zealanders are committed to staying here and making our communities and our country flourish.

What makes New Zealanders unique is our identity - as individuals, as communities and as a nation.

I think one of the mistakes we have made in past years was we tried to let things look after themselves. As a nation we didn’t look ahead.

We now have unemployment in the same regions we have skills shortages, and we have a wall of wood on the East Coast and in Northland while the roads, ports and processing plants are not able to cope with the volumes.

As we create jobs and employment we can promote and develop the services we need.

One of the first steps is ensuring we have health care that supports all of our citizens not just those in cities and those with money.

The Progressive Coalition is committed to having free doctors visits for school children and the elderly. We aim to have these in the first two years of the next Government.

We want to see free, high quality health care for all New Zealanders.

We have already supported increased health spending by $3 billion over four years.

We want to strengthen our network of public hospitals.

The Progressive Coalition wants a hospital offering general specialist services within 60 minutes by road of 90 per cent of New Zealanders. Each public hospital should have a range of general specialist services.

This can be done. We can do it, and we are committing to do it if the Progressive Coalition is returned to Government.

We will focus particularly on rebuilding services for acute treatments in the key areas of cancer and mental health.

Health care goes beyond hospitals.

The Progressive Coalition is committed to removing asset and income testing for geriatric care, by progressively raising levels of assets and income exempt from testing.

This will need to be phased in because to remove all asset testing in one step would cost at least as much as $250 million and could be as high as $400 million.

We would raise the threshold by $20,000 a year so that within four years the average family home would be exempted. Within eight years, asset testing would have been totally removed.

Many families and older people have talked to me about the cost of electricity.

We have already announced a winter energy subsidy of around $15 a month for superannuitants, beneficiaries and those on low incomes.

A rebate averaging about $15 a month will reduce winter power bills to households by about a quarter.

The rebate is designed to make home heating more affordable in the winter months for New Zealanders on fixed incomes.

Assuming 800,000 households are eligible, the rebate would cost $36 million per year at an average rate of $15 per month.

NZ Superannuation should be universally available in recognition of people’s contributions to New Zealand during their active working lives.

The fund is coming from the Government’s Capital Budget and will therefore not interfere with current funding arrangements for health, education and social welfare.

The fund should be sufficient so that the married couple superannuation rate is fixed between 65 and 72.5 per cent of average ordinary time weekly earnings after tax.

Our population is ageing and adjustments will be needed to provide for a growing number of superannuitants.

The super fund this Coalition Government has created maintains some pay-as-you-go element for the future, and allows us to continue to meet demands for other essential social services today.

There will always be pressure to cut superannuation unless it is locked up in a secure fund.

- It locks into law the base rate of superannuation: sixty-five per cent of average ordinary time earnings for a married retired couple.

- It pre-funds a proportion of future costs, on a fair basis;

- It continues a significant pay-as-you-go component, so that no generation has to pay twice for superannuation;

- It maintains a voluntary second-tier system. For example private superannuation and savings schemes such as universal super.

The Progressive Coalition wants to have a regular survey to ensure the living standards of older New Zealanders are being maintained.

We need to respect and value our citizens and we intend to do that in the next term of the Labour / Progressive Coalition Government.

We want to lift incomes so we can make social services stronger.

I’m committed to continuing to implement progressive policies that all New Zealanders can be proud of.

This Government has proven that a fresh direction that takes people into account can be achieved without compromising the economic development of our nation.

That is the challenge that I give you my commitment to meet.

ends


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