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Brash costs superannuitants a hundred bucks a week

7 September 2004

Hon Jim Anderton MP, Progressive Leader

Don Brash and the failed policies of the past cost superannuitants a hundred bucks a week

The failed policies of the eighties and nineties continue to cost superannuitants more than hundred dollars a week, Progressive leader Jim Anderton told a Grey Power audience in Blenheim today.

Speaking to Grey Power Blenheim, he said if New Zealand’s economy had kept pace with Australia’s for the last thirty years, every New Zealand family would be $175 a week better off.

“Superannuation is set as a proportion of the average wage. The base (married rate) is 65 per cent of average ordinary time after tax earnings. That means the failed policies of the eighties and nineties have cost a married superannuitant couple more than a hundred dollars a week.

“We cannot afford to go back to the failed policies of the past.

“A couple of weeks ago Donald Brash went to Australia. He told them we’re on our way to becoming a failed Pacific state. He is simply wrong. Over the last five years, our growth rate has outstripped the OECD. Our GDP grew by fourteen per cent. Australia's grew by eleven per cent. In the previous five years – when National was in government and Donald Brash was at the reserve Bank – New Zealand grew by 9.9 per cent and Australia by 16.9 per cent. So we trailed Australia when Don ran the show the way he wanted, and we are beating them now.

“To put it another way, you have to have a hundred dollars a week to spare if you are thinking of voting Donald Brash and Act back into office and returning to the failed policies of the past,” Jim Anderton said.

Full speech to Blenheim Greypower Follows.

Speech to Greypower Blenheim
General
07 September 2004
Topic: Jim Anderton's Speeches
Speech to Grey Power Blenheim

2.00PM Tuesday, 7 September 2004.
Blenheim Working Men's Club, Wynen St, Blenheim.

SPEECH NOTES

I want to tell you about a letter a woman received recently:

"Dear Mum,

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm telling you that I eloped with my new boyfriend.

He is so nice, with all his ear piercings and tattoos and his big motorcycle.

But it's not only that mum, I'm pregnant and Ahmed said we will be very happy in his caravan.

He wants to have many more children with me and that's one of my dreams.

I've learned to try new things, like marijuana.

Don't worry Mum, I'm 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself.

Some day I'll come and visit you so you can meet your grandchildren.

Your loving daughter, Gail.

PS: Mum, it's not really true. I'm next door having coffee. I just wanted to show you that there are worse things in life than the school report that's on my bed. Call me when it's safe to come home."

The moral of the story is, things could be worse.

It’s been a long time since we could confidently say the same about New Zealand that things could be worse.

Today, I want to say, things could be much worse for working people, for superannuitants, for young people and for businesses and for New Zealand.

New Zealand is humming

Not just economically - but that’s important.

We’re also taking giant strides socially, because the two go hand in hand.

Every region of New Zealand is in positive growth mode.

In the eighties and nineties governments abandoned the regions.

They stood on the sidelines and wished you luck.

Now, my ministry is working closely with each region.

We have set out priorities for development and got agencies talking to each other.

Here in Marlborough a wine centre of excellence was established and now an aviation heritage centre.

Over in Nelson-Tasman, there is a seafood centre of excellence.

The government is working positively with each region of New Zealand.

Confidence is one of the main reasons for its renewed success.

The difference is showing up in jobs.

The achievement by this government I am most proud of is the unemployment figure.

Remember when Donald Brash as Governor of the Reserve Bank said the unemployment rate was inevitably stuck at more than seven per cent?

He used to deliberately slow the economy down if unemployment looked like falling.

Today, the jobs are returning.

211,000 new jobs have been created since 1999.

Unemployment is at its lowest level since 1987 - at 4 per cent.

A couple of weeks ago Donald Brash went to Australia.

He told them we’re on our way to economic misery.

He is simply wrong.

Over the last five years, our growth rate has outstripped the OECD.

Our GDP grew by fourteen per cent.

Australia's grew by eleven per cent.

In the previous five years, when National was in government and Donald Brash was at the reserve Bank, New Zealand grew by 9.9 per cent and Australia by 16.9 per cent.

So we trailed Australia when they ran the show, and we are beating them now.

What does Donald Brash not understand about that?

The difference might not sound like much.

But consider this: if our economy had keep pace with Australia’s for the last thirty years, every New Zealand family would be $175 a week better off.

Superannuation is set as a proportion of the average wage.

The base (married rate) is 65 per cent of average ordinary time after tax earnings.

That means the failed policies of the eighties and nineties have cost a married superannuitant couple more than a hundred dollars a week.

To put it another way, you have to have a hundred dollars a week to spare if you are thinking of voting Donald Brash and Act back into office and returning to the failed policies of the past.

The stronger performance of the New Zealand economy has made superannuation more secure.

All through the nineties I felt like I was fighting to save superannuation.

One government after another tried to come up with new ways to cut it.

The reason no one talks about super being cut any more is because the economy is doing better.

When the economy was going down the drain they looked for things to cut.

I always thought they were wrong to make superannuitants bear the cost.

But it was always plain that they were doing it because the government didn’t have enough money.

There is no Third World economy with a first world superannuation system.

A first world economy doesn’t guarantee you secure super, but it gives you the choice.

Now that the economy is performing better, the pressure has gone off superannuation.

If there is one message I have for you today, it’s that we should be positive about New Zealand.

We have so much going for us.

It’s not that everything is perfect - it’s that we can be confident about New Zealand because it’s heading the right direction.

Even the crime rate is coming down.

Is it a coincidence that, when unemployment comes down, the crime rate falls?

Last year the crime rate fell 6.5 pecent.

The police say it was one of the biggest falls on record and the biggest for at least thirty years.

Despite what the opposition would have us believe, we now have the lowest crime rate in over twenty years

The crime rate is 18 percent lower than it was at its peak in 1996.

You wouldn’t believe it when you read the papers, but that is the truth of what’s happening.

That means there were 20,997 less victims of crime nationally last year than there were the year before - or 403 fewer victims a week.

Dishonesty offences are down.

Sexual offences dropped four per cent.

Property abuse fell six per cent.

There is one area where offending is going up - it was drug offences; up 2.9 per cent last year.

That’s why the Progressives are anti-drugs.

If you’re not anti-drugs, you’re not anti-crime.

I never thought my work in economic development would mean I had to look at drugs.

I’m supporting community youth drug centres to remove marijuana starting from communities from the ground up.

I’m the Minister in charge of the Labour Progressive coalition government's anti drug policy.

The government is confronting the P epidemic.

But we also need to challenge the most prevalent drug in our community - alcohol.

That’s why I support putting the drinking age back up to 20 years of age.

Drugs are one issue where it pays to be clear about your choice of coalition partner.

The Progressives can put their hands up as totally opposed to drug abuse.

I believe Helen Clark will lead the next Government.

So you need to think carefully about who is in the government with Labour.

The Progressive Party will be campaigning for the party vote as a pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-business party with a social conscience.

We are an insurance policy for Labour.

If Labour needs the Greens to govern, how anti-drugs do you think the government will be?

If people want insurance, they have to back the Progressives with their party vote.

Coalition partners can make a difference.

Look at Kiwibank.

Remember how they told us bank branches had to be closed?

We found a way to open new branches of the People’s Bank.

And we made it profitable.

The bank announced last week it is already operating profitably.

Where are the critics of the bank now?

Donald Brash and Rodney Hide are queuing up to sell it off.

The Kiwibank is not the only thing Progressives have accomplished.

It’s not even as important as our success in creating jobs.

But it shows we were right about the potential for a New Zealand-owned financial institution.

It shows we were right to oppose asset sales.

And it shows we can make services in the regions of New Zealand profitable and secure.

Progressives have also had success in bringing down the cost of visiting the doctor.

We don’t scream for credit for this, because I didn’t go out and bang my fist on the table to get it.

Doctors’ visits came down because I negotiated with Annette King.

I said we would support the health package she wanted, but we wanted to see progress on reducing doctors’ fees.

She agreed to reduce the cost of doctors’ visits for superannuitants and under 18 year olds and to her credit, she kept her word.

Many superannuitants are getting much cheaper visits to the doctor.

It’s a matter of principle, no one should be denied health care because they can’t afford to pay.

Imagine my surprise when I received a letter in my mailbox at home from Helen Clark.

'Dear Jim', it said. 'The Labour Party is very pleased to have introduced much cheaper doctors’ visits for superannuitants.'

I read the letter carefully, and my copy seemed to miss out a line.

The one where it said, 'by the way, thanks to Jim Anderton and Matt Robson for helping to deliver this.'

Progressive doesn’t always get the credit.

But we are in there making a difference.

No fuss, no trouble, just getting the job done and getting results.

My work in economic development is making a difference.

I’ve been working with every region of New Zealand.

Matt Robson went out and campaigned for four weeks leave for all workers.

That made a difference.

The Progressive Party will be campaigning for the party vote in next year's election as a pro-growth and pro-jobs insurance policy.

Last month week the Parliament had to vote on this year’s Budget.

You know who voted against it?

National, NZ First, ACT, the Greens and the Maori Party.

In other words, the Greens voted to bring this government down.

The Maori party voted to bring it down.

Everything that has been achieved counted for nothing with any of them.

Those five parties that voted against the government are all into grievance, failure and division.

Which of them would you say is positive about New Zealand?

None of them are pro-jobs.

None of them are realistic.

None of them are practical.

National and Act still believes in asset sales.

Don Brash will sell Kiwibank by lunchtime.

Air New Zealand - The taxpayer had to step in to save it.

Don Brash will sell it by lunchtime.

It’s good to have the railways tracks back in public ownership.

National sold them for a dollar last time.

Maybe next time they’ll sell them for two dollars.

New Zealand cannot afford to go back to the failed policies of the past under National and Act.

We can’t go back to the hammering superannuitants and working New Zealanders took in the eighties and nineties.

They actually tried to cut the superannuation of retired New Zealanders.

We should be positive about New Zealand.

The economy is going better than it has in a generation.

The living standards of all New Zealanders are up.

Superannuitants have more security than there has been in years.

When I look at the advantages New Zealand has, I am immensely positive about the future.

We are a talented and creative people.

We are unleashing our creativity and reaping the returns in more jobs, better incomes for New Zealand and a more secure future.

We are making too much progress to go back.

ENDS

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