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Labour delivers for older New Zealanders

14 September 2005

Labour delivers for older New Zealanders

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Senior Citizens Minister Ruth Dyson released Labour's Senior Citizens policy today, saying that Labour in its third term will build on the significant progress made over the last six years on issues which are very important to older New Zealanders.

“Labour has worked hard to ensure that New Zealand's older citizens have a decent quality of life and are able to maintain active lives in our communities,” Helen Clark said.

“We have lifted living standards by reversing the previous National government’s cuts to New Zealand Superannuation; ensuring lower cost doctors' fees and standard prescription charges for all older New Zealanders; and ensured more affordable housing for older tenants in state houses. We are phasing out asset testing for older people in residential care, and we have guaranteed New Zealand Superannuation on its present terms and conditions for the future.

“Labour’s future commitments include significant improvements to the rates rebate scheme, so that up to 300,000 New Zealanders on low and modest incomes will be eligible to have up to $500 deducted from their annual rates bill, and abolishing the mandatory driver licence test for those aged eighty and over.

“The quality of life for many thousands of older New Zealanders will improve dramatically with Labour’s commitment to fund 7,500 extra cataract operations and 10,000 extra hip and knee operations over the next three years. We have also committed significant extra funding for residential and home-based care.

“Labour in government keeps its promises to older New Zealanders. All our initiatives would be at risk under National,” Helen Clark said.

Ruth Dyson said Labour had a range of other new initiatives for older New Zealanders.

“The Government Superannuation Fund will be amended, lifting the incomes of thousands of GSF recipients.

“All married superannuitants with a partner in long-term residential care will become eligible for the higher single rate of NZ Superannuation, worth nearly $20 a week.

“Labour will improve transport support under the Total Mobility scheme and commit funding to increase the number of users by sixty per cent over the next three years. Operated by local authorities and jointly funded by central and local government, the scheme provides a subsidised taxi transport service to people with serious mobility constraints.

“Labour has ensured more affordable housing by introducing income-related rents for state house tenants, and is increasing the state housing stock again following National’s sell-offs in the 1990s.

“The next Labour Government will take this a step further by developing partnerships with local authorities and non-governmental agencies to ensure that older people have a good range of affordable housing choices.

“National's policy to bring back market rents for state tenants would cast many into poverty.The most vulnerable in our society, including many older people, would suffer the most under the new right policies that National wants to revive. National's policies mean spending cuts, market rents, poverty, and a very divided country.

“Labour’s direction is clearly spelt out and well established through our Positive Ageing Strategy. It aims for fairness and inclusiveness. It supports full participation in our communities. And it promotes pride in our senior citizens.”

ENDS

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