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ACT For Families


ACT For Families

Saturday 20 Jul 2002 Richard Prebble Speeches -- Social Welfare

Speech by ACT Leader Richard Prebble to Launch ACT's family policy, Saturday, July 20, 2:30pm, Karori Park, Wellington

I am launching ACT's family policy today here in Karori with some families.

ACT's practical policies are going to be very good for the New Zealand family.

I note that ACT MPs are typical of the New Zealand family and that I lead a team of MPs and candidates who are very family oriented.

It does help to be in favour of the family in practice rather than just in theory.

Every one of ACT's women MPs is a mother, a working mother.

There are 273,000 families where both mum and dad work, and ACT MPS Muriel Newman, Donna Awatere Huata and Penny Webster share that experience every day.

We also have MPs where the spouse is a full time mother - and that is the experience of 97,000 families that make the trade-off between parenting and work.

The Labour Government has over the past three years ignored the 490,000 working families.

The Government has poured over $1 billion into supporting the 400,000 beneficiaries who do not work. For beneficiaries, they have been protected from inflation by the automatic indexing of benefits. From health costs by the community card and state rental reduction have seen beneficiary real incomes rise above the income of those who work.

Compare that to the position of the 490,000 working families.

Inflation since December 1999 has, according to the Government's own official statistics, risen 2 percent faster than wages. So the working family has gone backwards.

But when you look at food prices, then you see that low income families' real incomes have been hit.

Meat fish and poultry prices have gone up 20 percent.

Fruit and vegetable prices have increased 16 percent.

The average New Zealand family is not eating as well under Labour.

In two-and-a-half years under Labour, food prices have increased more than they did under nine years of National.

Wages under the Employment Contracts Act increased faster than inflation.

All that has saved working families was the reduction in household interest rates that this year have increased already 1 percent and are predicted to reach 9 percent by Christmas.

Mortgage interest rates so far this year have increased payments on the average $100,000 mortgage by $780 a year.

Labour's contempt for the low income working families can be seen by the Government's refusal to extend the Community Services Card to 48,000 low income families who earn less than superannuitants.

Too many working families give up the struggle, split up and go on a benefit.

Despite unemployment being at a historic low, there are 30,000 more able-bodied adults on a benefit today than a decade ago when unemployment was over 10 percent.

ACT says the best way to help the family is to give working families a pay rise.

A tax cut for every worker is a pay rise for the working family.

Reducing tax rates to 28 percent and 18 percent will translate into significant extra cash for the family.

Under ACT's tax package, a taxpayer on $40,000 a year gets $670 a year extra.

ACT's tax cut immediately puts the average family ahead of inflation and in real terms better off.

An economy growing at better than 4 percent translates into real wealth for the average family.

At the present predicted 2 percent growth rate, in a decade the New Zealand family is just $2700 better off.

At 5 percent growth, the family is some $8000 better off. As time goes on the difference in income compounds.

A first world economy is important to the family because we cannot have first world health and education without a first world economy.

As a parent I know that one of my priorities was a good education for our children.

ACT regards the NCEA as a politically correct experiment - a dumbing down of education standards.

ACT alone supports external examinations and a lifting to first world education standards.

I think it is outrageous that parents today feel that our streets are so unsafe that they must drive their children to school. Zero Tolerance for Crime is a family policy.

I think one of the most shocking waiting lists in New Zealand is the one made up of profoundly deaf children who are waiting or an operation, which will enable them to hear. I am told by doctors this is a waiting list the private sector could wipe out. I say our health policy is a family policy. ACT's proposal to lower hospital waiting lists is good news for children who need operations in order to be able to participate in education.

But I think ACT's most important policy is our emphasis on values.

I have tried to teach my children the values of hard work, thrift, honesty and personal responsibility.

Those are the virtues of a successful life, family, community and nation.

I feel as I teach them I am competing with the state.

I have had each one of the children tell me as they left school how many of their friends have gone on the dole. Young people from families that are well off. I have, with them, witnessed the state corrupting our young by giving them money for nothing.

Then like others of the baby boomer generation I have seen our adult children go to London - where they pay less tax and earn more money than I do.

In Doreen and my case to have a family again, to see grand children grow up in the community, we need to see ACT pro-family policies.

The family does not need Goldilocks rhetoric or even more civil servants writing cliché-ridden reports.

The family need an economic transfusion and a government whose policies are based on the same rules we ourselves try to live by. We need values not politics.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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