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Pansy Speak: A healthy start with healthy choices

Pansy Speak

A healthy start with healthy choices

Last Sunday, 200 leaders and representatives from Auckland’s Asian communities met with National Party Leader John Key to discuss their concerns about crime. This highly charged meeting came just a week after 10,000 people, most of them Asians, marched against crime.

Never before has New Zealand witnessed the outpouring of anger, grief, and fear we have seen from the Asian communities in recent weeks. The tragic events in South Auckland have affected many people who now fear for the safety of their families and neighbourhoods.

John Key assured this very concerned group that though the Labour Government has failed to acknowledge their concerns, the National Party takes them very seriously.

Making our communities safer is a high priority for National. We know that rising crime is affecting the entire country. Recent polls have confirmed that crime and the cost of living are the two most pressing concerns for Kiwis.

One of the reasons for the increase in crime is the growing number of youth gangs and incidents involving young people. This sentiment was echoed during the meeting with John Key. We know that more kids are dropping out of school and many cannot read or write sufficiently. Inspiring our youth to achieve and do well is an important first step to stopping them entering a life of crime.

One way to do this is to encourage them to play sport. For those with difficult home lives, sport gives them something constructive to do to in their spare time and helps them avoid the temptation of hanging around the streets, drifting into drugs, and getting into trouble.

It’s probably no surprise that kids’ participation in sport is declining. One in three are overweight or obese, and more than a third are inactive. I talk to a lot of parents who are genuinely worried that their child is, or might end up, in one of those unhealthy categories.

National believes that the Labour Government hasn’t done enough to encourage kids to get active. Millions of dollars are being wasted on funding Sport and Recreation New Zealand’s bureacracy. Almost a third of their funding - $35 million – never makes it outside the Wellington head office. This year, Sparc will spend $5.5 million on its website, and between 2006 and 2010 it has budgeted $11.5 million for the website.

National is committed to getting behind our youth and encouraging them to get active. We will direct funding to the front line of schools and sports clubs. Unlike Labour, we won’t make schools apply to multiple funds and fill in scores of forms to access money – and we won’t tell them how to spend it.

We want them to choose how to spend the money – be it buying equipment and uniforms, hiring sports co-ordinators, or paying for service contracts with local sports clubs. Schools will just need to ensure that any extra dollars we give them result in more kids actually taking part in organised sport.

We have also announced our support for early childhood education and our plans to boost the sector. National will retain the 20 Hours scheme for three- and four-year-olds, and maintain existing subsidies and fee controls, but we will make it more flexible and available to more children so parents can choose what suits them best.

We will remove the six-hours-a-day limit, include playcentres and kohanga reo, provide the 20 Hours scheme to five-year-olds, and investigate more frequent payment methods. The staff ratios for the under-two’s also needs to be addressed, and over time National will reduce the teacher-child ratio from 1:5 to 1:4.

By giving our children a good foundation and encouraging them to get active we can set them on the right path. National believes in strong families and strong communities, and I believe these two policies will help provide both.

We also believe that the healthy start we will be giving our children should also continue in the workplace.

On Wednesday, our policy on ACC was released. National wants to make our workplaces safer while providing certainty of coverage and effective compensation.

Regular readers of Pansy Speak will be well aware of the million-dollar spend-up on the Covered campaign, the seductive nature of long-term compensation for claimants, the trouble in ACC’s fraud unit, and the many hoops that some genuine claimants have had to jump through to get treatment.

The number of workplace accidents in New Zealand is on the rise, and we are the only country apart from Luxemburg that is not experiencing a decrease. We need to improve the scheme so people receive timely and effective treatment and are safer at work.

National wants a more flexible scheme that rewards employers with good workplace safety records, penalises those with poor records, and encourages employers to buy more than the basic cover.

We support the principle of competition and choice in the ACC Work Account, which covers employees and self-employed at work. The issues around providing competition in relation to the Work Account are well known and understood.

If elected, we will investigate opening the Work Account to competition, conduct a full stock-take of the various components of the ACC scheme, evaluate progress to full funding, identify areas of cross-subsidy or cost-shifting, and underfunding of newly-legislated entitlements, and investigate the introduction of an independent disputes tribunal to end ACC’s dual role of judge and jury on disputed claims.

Any changes to ACC will be made only after a full consideration and evaluation of benefits to consumers.

For a full copy of our plan for ACC please visit

Pansy Wong


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