Progressive Campaign Launch Speech
Hon Jim Anderton MP, Progressive Leader
2005 Progressive Campaign Launch
3pm Sunday 14 August 2005, Lava Restaurant, St Heliers, Auckland
I would like to start out by acknowledging the Progressive candidates in the room.
First among them, Matt Robson, who has been as fine and accomplished an MP in this parliament as any.
Matt needs to be in the next parliament for his personal qualities as an MP.
But above also to continue the progress he has helped to achieve and to secure fresh gains.
They say gratitude is the shortest felt emotion.
Progressives will ask New Zealanders for support this year, not for what we have done, though we are proud of it.
Our appeal is for support to get things done for people.
Progressives have a unique offer.
We are the only party pledging: • To be quiet, co-opertaive and industrious in government. • To continue to the success of the last six years, • To keep jobs as our top priority,
Our special priorities we’re asking New Zealand to support are: • To reduce student debt, • To help families into their first home, • To raise the drinking age, and • To offer a cash boost for those on fixed incomes.
These are the priorities of the party that got New Zealand four weeks annual leave for all, Kiwibank, paid parental leave, 260,000 new jobs and more.
For three years, we’ve been keeping our heads down and getting on with the job.
We’ve been getting things done for people.
Last Thursday, we heard some news about New Zealand’s progress.
In fact, it was some of the best news I’ve ever had in politics.
It was the result of the latest household labour force survey, the measure of New Zealand’s unemployment.
It showed New Zealand’s unemployment rate has fallen.
Unemployment fell to 3.7 per cent of the workforce.
Unemployment is practically half the level the National Party kept jobless numbers at through its last three years in government.
It’s barely a third of the peak levels National pushed unemployment to in the early nineties.
In the words of the chief statistician, "Employment is at the highest level ever recorded by the Household Labour Force Survey."
We have the lowest unemployment rate in the developed world.
What does Progressive stand for? That’s what Progressive stands for.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.
We don’t scream and shout to get our way.
We just work constructively with others to make it happen.
New Zealanders need and deserve government that serves their interests.
Low unemployment is making a difference to tens of thousands of New Zealand families.
When unemployment is low, we can talk meaningfully about getting rid of poverty.
Because the best way out of poverty is a job.
Low unemployment means we can invest more in New Zealand, because more people pay tax.
Social services can be better, because there is less social need.
When there are more jobs, there is less poor health, fewer struggling and hungry kids in the classroom, less demand for emergency housing.
There is even less crime.
We should celebrate the jobs New Zealand has created.
The economy has been strong for five good years.
Our businesses have been brilliantly creative and innovative.
More and more are taking on the world.
We’ve had some favourable breezes at our back, and we’ve also harnessed them with strong fiscal policies.
We’ve boosted productivity with better skills training and modern apprenticeships.
For the first time in a generation the government has been engaging actively with communities and regions.
All this is at stake now.
The Opposition would sweep it away before lunchtime.
Communities have confidence in their future, as they haven’t felt for decades.
Regions are vibrant and growing.
There are prospects for young people in their own communities.
Central and local government are working together in partnership with industry, working people and everyone with a stake in their community’s future.
If there is one thing we must say to New Zealand this year, it’s that we must celebrate this success.
We must not go back to the failed policies of the past.
We passed a quarter of a million new jobs this year.
It’s too much to put at risk.
The Opposition is trying to disguise its true intentions, but it would take us back to the failed policies of the eighties and nineties in an instant.
They’re benefiting from the government’s success.
So much progress has been made, there is complacency about the true issues we face.
Low unemployment has been such a quiet achievement, people sometimes forget how important it is.
We’re still going to be quiet achievers.
That’s us, that’s Progressive.
If you want things done for people, quietly, without fuss and chaos, then you need reliable, constructive parties in government.
The Progressives are reliable.
We’ve been working with people, keeping our heads down, getting things done.
The Progressives are the guardians of the government’s commitment to a stronger economy and high quality jobs for New Zealanders.
And the Progressives have unique priorities for a new term.
We need to keep the progress going.
We have a clear agenda for our role in a refreshed coalition.
We need to propel people into more jobs and better paying jobs, through more skills, more research and development and lower company tax.
The economy serves people, not the other way round.
So we need healthy communities too.
We need to offer young New Zealanders opportunities; remove the threats they face.
We need to turn the tide against the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs, just as we turned the tide on unemployment.
We need families to have a chance at buying their own home, just as we have successfully pushed for better annual leave and parental leave conditions for working people.
So we want families to be able to capitalise their family support to buy their first home.
We want skilled young New Zealanders to look to their future with optimism, not burdens.
So I want to say to you, I want to be Education Minister in a new coalition.
As Minister of Regional Development I meet business people all over the country.
They tell me over and over again they are struggling to find people with the right skills to do the work.
We have businesses needing people with skills, and people needing skills.
The government needs to play its part.
Progressive wants to remove the skills gap.
We will do a regular stocktake of skills shortages in the economy.
We’ll encourage New Zealanders to train for the jobs where their skills are needed most.
We’ve heard a lot about some weird courses receiving funding.
New Zealand needs to put that money to where the skills are needed.
Progressive will reduce the student debt by paying off student loans for graduates who stay in New Zealand.
If we reduce student debt we’ll increase the level of skills and talent in the community.
We’ll set our young people free to be all they can be.
For each year you work after graduation, we will meet your total annual student loan payments, for at least 3 years.
That's all the loan payment, so there’ll be no interest, and the capital will reduce, so you’ll have more cash in hand.
No one else has a policy that will ensure graduates have more cash in their hands, even if there are great ideas to pay off loans faster.
The student debt is driving our best and brightest overseas.
We can afford to do more to reduce student debt.
We have in our hands the future of our young people.
We are custodians of the future, and we can enrich it.
Reducing the student debt burden will create a better tomorrow for a generation of our young.
By 2007, we would get everyone under 20 into education, training or a job.
Now that’s Progressive.
We can afford it.
We have earned the right to make social progress with the prosperity our quiet work has helped to achieve.
We are on the way to taking our place in the first rank of economies.
We must also join the first rank of the world’s living standards.
The political commentator Jane Clifton has been around for a long time (if I can be only half as rude about her as she is about me).
She has a new book out.
It points out that a few decades ago, politicians talked only about improving New Zealand’s standard of living.
It seems almost quaint to hear it now.
Where did that go?
We are improving the economy, and we must also improve New Zealanders’ standard of living.
New Zealand is making progress.
Kiwibank…Four weeks annual leave for everyone…Doubling apprenticeships…
We promised all these at the last election.
We achieved them.
We’ve shown how to do it; you have to be sensible and co-operative.
We need to be sensible about protecting our young as well.
People want parliament to show more leadership on alcohol and drugs.
If you want to stop crime and make sure young people have a chance…You have to be anti-drugs.
Progressive wants to change the drinking culture and change attitudes.
Progressive is anti-drugs.
We say - increase the alcohol purchasing age back to twenty.
You should have to be twenty to walk into your local licensed corner dairy and buy booze.
Progressive says, let's have a lot more social responsibility from the liquor marketing machines.
Young teenagers deserve respect.
Young New Zealanders deserve to be told the truth about cannabis and other drug use -- and that it just isn't OK.
They haven’t always been getting that message from middle aged New Zealanders who have their own security and choices.
In government, Progressive will be a kind of insurance policy on all this.
Just as we’ve been fierce confronting the threat of methamphetamine, we’ll keep up the pressure on cannabis and alcohol.
Progressive is your pro-economic development, anti-drugs insurance policy.
We need to share the gains, especially for people on fixed incomes.
They haven’t shared enough of the gains of the last six years.
Progressive would make a cash payment to fixed income earners of $200 to help with winter power bills.
We want to increase super by another percentage point of the average wage too, so that the elderly can reap their share of the gains we are achieving.
And we’ll ensure all New Zealanders have access to the health care they need by removing charges for prescribed medicine.
Progressive has an ambitious housing policy.
We will help families into their first home by allowing them to capitalise their family support payments up to $30,000 for a deposit on a house.
I got into my first home by capitalising the family benefit and now it's time to let other families do the same.
A first home provides the best security around for young families.
These are the gains we can make by being quiet, consistent and persistent.
New Zealand is enjoying the warmest six years of growth in the lifetime of most New Zealanders working today.
No one should throw that away.
But nor do we ask for New Zealanders’ support merely to do more of the same.
We ask for support to do better still.
We are living in the most creative and talented country in the world.
We are beginning to unleash our strengths in ways we have never tried before.
For a few decades New Zealand fell a long way behind.
It is scandalous Don Brash helped cause that decline and now asks for support to because the gap exists with other countries.
New Zealand has come too far to return to Muldoonist division and the callous indifference to the social health of New Zealand.
Our economy is poised, after six years of steady improvement, to deliver gains that will help to improve the living standards of New Zealanders.
It’s never been so promising to be a New Zealander.
Let the other parties scream and shout.
Progressive will work hard for better jobs, and stronger communities.
Progressive will keep working hard to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.
We’ll work for more relief for those on fixed incomes.
We’ll work to reduce the student debt.
We’ll keep working quietly.
We’ll keep getting things done for people.
Because that’s Progressive.
That’s why we are asking New Zealand for support this year.
That will be our contribution to the next government.
We will be in it.
We will be reliable, as we have been these past three years.
We will be positive and celebrate New Zealand.
We will make gains for New Zealanders.
We will be…Progressive.