Peters: Morrinsville GreyPower
Media Release- EMBARGOED AGAINST DELIVERY
Catholic Church, Thames Street
26 May 2008
Before we begin today let us pay our respects to Graham Stairmand.
Graham was a frequent visitor to our offices in Wellington and a strong advocate for seniors across the country.
Graham understood the benefit of MMP to deliver for seniors and never shied away from asking the tough questions on behalf of GreyPower.
We enjoyed working with him and he will be missed.
We think Graham would have been happy with many of the outcomes of last week’s budget.
He would have been pleased that those on New Zealand Superannuation received a 1 October adjustment to ensure that they benefited from changes to the Net Average Wage through tax cuts.
He would have been pleased to see the delivery of free off peak travel on public transport, the substantial increase in subsides for hearing aids and commitment to power rebates contained in the budget.
We have heard a lot from some quarters about the number of New Zealanders heading to Australia because wages are higher and taxes are lower.
In fact there has been something of an obsession with this trend in some quarters.
It had been a cause for concern for New Zealand First – but our obsession has been making New Zealand the kind of place off-shore New Zealanders want to return to.
The fact is that they do have higher wages in Australia, they are getting bigger tax cuts and they do have more disposable income.
While last weeks budget went some way to addressing this gap – the gap remains nonetheless.
But one group of New Zealanders can look at the budget announced on Thursday knowing that it will be the Australians looking back the other way with growing green eyes.
And do you know who that group is?
It is you, sitting here in this room and other seniors across the country.
Seniors in New Zealand, as of 1 October, will be better off in many ways than those in Australia!
Even the Herald, who you all know are no great friends of New Zealand First, named seniors as the biggest winners of this year’s budget.
They even managed through clenched teeth to credit New Zealand First with this result – we know that must have hurt!
In case you haven’t heard already these are the benefits we have secured for you in this years budget;
• A $23 a week
rise in the after-tax married New Zealand Superannuation
which equates to 51 per cent of the before-tax average wage,
compared with 39 per cent in Australia.
• Free public transport at off-peak hours, compared with only discounted fares in Australia.
• A jump in the subsidy for hearing aids, which audiologists describe as the biggest increase in decades.
• A promised rebate on power bills to take effect when electricity enters the proposed emissions trading scheme.
And remember government superannuation in Australia is means tested.
The SuperGold Card, with over 4,000 business outlets on board nationwide and the additional government benefits is starting to deliver for seniors.
We told you at the launch that this was only the beginning – and so it has proven.
We have now reached the size of most Australian states and with the increased superannuation announced in the budget, it is Australians that will be looking this way across the ditch.
Not that we have finished yet – we really do have a long way to go.
But by comparison some of you may have seen the media reports of the reaction of some senior citizens in Australia to their budget – it was to strip off in the middle of Melbourne claiming there was nothing in it for them.
New Zealand might by a little cold for such a response – but there have been many budgets in the past where it would have been justified.
When you add in the massive increase in funding for eldercare over the past three budgets, the funding of one thousand more police, increased funding for Maori Wardens and the RSA and the list goes on – you can see that the plight of seniors is being addressed – albeit slowly.
You might ask yourself this question – how much of this would have occurred had New Zealand First not been in parliament?
But there is an even bigger question which was blatant at this years budget – where is the alternative, the vision of a better New Zealand.
You see National have become carping in their criticism of the government, but are hopeless at offering an alternative.
It is always “me to” or “we haven’t decided yet”.
No substance, no alternative.
In fact the only matter of substance John Key has confirmed is that he would be cutting government services to fund tax cuts in the future.
But we still hear some say that New Zealand needs change – and we agree.
But if you really think National is the solution then you are asking the wrong question.
With National all you get is change for changes sake.
Only New Zealand First offers a change in direction, rather than a flip flop.
Only New Zealand First offers change with courage.
Only New Zealand First offers change with hope.
This election is not about National verses Labour.
This election is about the future direction of New Zealand.
You see when it came to the budget New Zealand First was prepared to put its money where it mouth is.
went public with our policy before the budget because we
believe we have a better plan.
New Zealand First wants to see a tax free threshold of $5,200 introduced – a tax cut that everybody benefits from.
We also want to see GST reduced to 10% across the board.
The reason why is simple – a tax cut will increase your income, but only a reduction in GST will address the issue of affordability.
We must also raise superannuation to 68% of the net average wage for married couples, this will ensure that senior citizens are not left behind.
New Zealand First has the vision to realise we must also grow the economic pie – not just try and carve it up in a fair way.
That is why New Zealand First supports lower tax on new export earnings aimed at driving our export dependant economy.
And we must also have the courage to rewrite the Reserve Bank Act so that high interest rates and an overvalued dollar stop crippling our economy.
We can then build the type of economy which will make us the envy of the world as we once were.
We are not afraid to put our ideas out there and debate them.
We offer a real alternative.
We offer a strong voice.
We offer many years of experience.
But most importantly we offer a track record of delivering on our promises.
So when New Zealand’s senior citizens go into the election this year they should ask themselves the following questions:
Who has ensured superannuation has gone up and will continue to go up further?
Who will seriously address the issues of affordability by lowering GST and keep adding to the SuperGold Card discounts and government subsides?
Who is going to ensure that we start to take a long term plan to fund the eldercare sector properly to deal with our aging population?
Who will ensure that we have more police on our streets and that they have the power to actually do something about drugs, gangs and graffiti?
Who will ensure that we have the policies to grow our economy faster and stronger so we can all share in the spoils?
Who will promote New Zealand ownership of key assets and protect them from foreign owners – thereby ensuring the profits stay here in New Zealand?
Who is going to ensure that healthcare and social services are not slashed and burned, but are enhanced for those who need them most?
Who is going to ensure that we end the politically correct nonsense which has distracted both the tired old parties and has corrupted Wellington?
Who is going to stand up for the uniquely kiwi way of life, our values and our culture at a time when the PC police tell us anything should go?
Let me tell you who will do these things – the one party that always has – New Zealand First.
The party of real change which you can believe in.
We have all lived through the failed experiments of the past – it is now time to set a new positive course for the future.
We in New Zealand First are prepared to lead the way – we have the policies, the persistence and the programme.
But we cannot do it without you.
Now is your chance to get the government you want, with the policies you support.
So our message today is simple - if you want to help make New Zealand great again then now is your chance.
But chances must be taken otherwise they become missed opportunities.
So make your voice count this year.
We will be there.
But how strong we are depends on you.
It is your choice.
So make it the right one.