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Dunne: Family focus across all policies

Friday, 26 August 2005

Dunne: Family focus across all policies

The family needs to be at the forefront of all political decision-making because strong families mean a strong country, United Future leader Peter Dunne said at the launch of the party's family policy in Christchurch today.

"That's not just a slogan, it is a simple and undeniable truth - but United Future is the only party that is holding that as its core principle and acting on it," Mr Dunne said.

"One of our key initiatives at the last election was the Families Commission, which has recently begun working on behalf of New Zealand families, and one of its key briefs is to evaluate policy and legislation in terms of its impact on families, in much the same way Treasury does for the economy.

"In the political arena, that is precisely the task that United Future takes upon itself - we run a very simple ruler over any piece of policy or legislation: if it's good for families, we back it; if it isn't, we don't," he said.

"That's why families are the focus of our major policy areas, including health, education, incomes, law and order, and outdoor recreation and the following are pro-family policies from all those areas:

Extending low GP fees to all families, so that parents pay no more than $20, schoolchildren no more than $10, and under 6s are free.

* Giving every New Zealander the chance to have a free standard "Warrant of Fitness" health check-up once a year.

* Clearing the waiting lists by establishing a contestable fund for elective surgery, so that both public and private health providers can tender for operations.

* Guaranteeing all three and four year olds 20 hours per week of free early childhood education at any qualified provider

* Setting a goal of Ten out of Ten, so that all children should be able to read, write, and do maths by the age of 10

* Recognising that parents are children's first teachers by expanding home-based education programmes to include all new families, and by increasing support for playcentres.

* Ensuring that every school has a character education programme, teaching universal values such as honesty, respect, and personal responsibility.

* Giving students equal treatment to young people on the dole when it comes to getting a student allowance, cutting the student loan interest rate, and writing-off some of the loan debt of new parents for two years after they have a child.

* Providing tax relief at all income levels to give families more money in the pocket to cover the rising costs they face.

* Giving parent s a real choice about whether to stay at home to look after children by introducing income-splitting, which lowers the tax bill of families on a single income or those who combine full-time with part-time work by treating both parents as equals for tax purposes, allowing them to pay a lower rate of tax.

* Recognising that voluntary agencies link families with communities by increasing the tax rebate on donations, and by introducing a $500 rebate for voluntary work.

* Increasing sworn police numbers to 10,000 and re-introduce 'beat' cops to every neighbourhood to raise the visibility of police.

* Increasing minimum non-parole periods for violent offenders so they are not released before time.

* Increasing funding for early intervention programmes for families and youth at risk (such as parenting education, character education in schools, a crackdown on truancy, and "Brat Camps" for chronic youth offenders), to break the cycle of criminal behaviour.

* Opposing the decriminalisation of cannabis.

* Ensuring that families have the right to access the great outdoors, rather than seeing it locked away by DOC and the environmentalists.

ENDS

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