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National values our veterans

18 July 2005

National values our veterans

Don Brash announced National’s veterans’ policy this week and it contains a series of initiatives that reflect the debt of gratitude that all New Zealanders feel to those who served in the armed services. It is National’s pledge that we will dramatically improve veterans’ access to health and welfare services by way of a Veterans’ Gold Card.

The best way to develop and implement informed policy is to get the best information through the best channels. This is why we also commit to establishing a Veterans Advisory Board, so the veteran community can engage formally with the government by providing independent advice to the Minister on issues of concern.

We will create a more streamlined pension system which will make it easier for veterans to access the benefits they are entitled to. The fact that at present a veteran seeking a war disablement pension has to wait a minimum of four months for a decision, while somebody seeking a sickness benefit from WINZ waits only four weeks is not good enough. We need to do much better for those who gave their service to our nation.

National have also committed to a full review of Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand to ensure it is appropriate to resource it as a 'one stop shop' for the provision of services to veterans. This would also make sure that both service provision and service delivery are at the level required for the well-being of all veterans. We will also work with, and give support to, all the war veterans homes, ensuring that they continue to meet the needs of the veteran community.

This week also saw more delaying tactics by Labour over Agent Orange. These veterans deserve justice, therefore, National will:

- Give an unqualified apology to Vietnam veterans and their families for the long-delayed recognition of the effects of that exposure.

- Provide free annual medical examinations for Vietnam veterans, to include specific screening for conditions known to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange when requested.

- Enhance medical care for the children and grandchildren of Vietnam veterans suffering from Agent Orange-related illnesses.

- Commit to an ongoing review of international research relating to the effects of exposure to Agent Orange to ensure the established list of related illnesses is updated on a regular basis.

The million dollar question…..

The question on everyone’s lips is, when is the election going to be? The only person who can answer that is Helen Clark. She has been playing games with the nation for too long over this, and Kiwis are sick of waiting for the date to be announced.

The rumour mill went into overdrive this week when Pete Hodgson gave us the impression that the election could well be held on 20 August. The 9th floor spin machine then tried to play this down by indicating a September election. So the end result is, in true Clark fashion, we are none the wiser.

The House will definitely sit for the first week back from recess on 26 July in order to pass the remainder of the Budget legislation. When you take into account the writ period after the House rises for an election, the earliest that we can have the election is 3 September. Once the writ period has begun, no new spending or initiatives can be implemented because they become binding on the next government.

Another interesting musing from Hodgson was that he had detected a mood change in the electorate. I have no idea where he has been hiding himself, but in my travels I have meet many people who can’t wait for a change in government. Many of them have voted Labour for years and now plan to vote National. The mood is changing, Mr Hodgson, but not in Labour’s favour.

Graham Capill in for 9 but out in 3

It’s old news now that the former leader of the Christian Heritage Party, Graham Capill, was sentenced to 9 years in prison for sexually abusing 3 young girls. The hypocrisy of it is that he could be out on parole in three years. I know I am not alone in saying that this is a disgusting situation.

It is National Party policy to abolish parole for all violent and repeat offenders. Therefore, under National, offenders such as Capill would be denied parole and be expected to spend their entire sentence behind bars, where they should be. The current parole system thwarts the intention of Parliament and undermines the work of judges, who are giving sentences that everyone knows will never be served. In recent years, New Zealand’s bail, sentencing and parole policies have developed something that is much more akin to a charter of prisoners' rights than a serious criminal justice code.

For far too long, lawmakers have been too soft on crime. It has got to the situation where many law-abiding Kiwis no longer feel safe on the streets, and this is unacceptable. Only a change to a National Government will see this turned around. For more on National’s law and order policy visit:

Gerry Brownlee


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