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PM’s announcement on the 2008 General Election

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

12 September 2008

PM’s announcement on the 2008 General Election

I have called this press conference today to announce the date of the 2008 General Election and the timetable of events which will unfold from the dissolution of Parliament.

This election is about trust.

It is about which leader and which major party we New Zealanders trust our families’ and our country’s future with.

This election is a choice between a government which has shown it can make the tough choices and an opposition which flip flops on almost every major issue which emerges.

It is an election between a government which takes principled positions and an opposition which says what it thinks the audience in front of it wants to hear.

It is an election about who can be trusted to take our nation ahead to a prosperous and confident 21st century, where all our families and communities can thrive.

In this campaign we in Labour will be talking about our vision for the future of New Zealand.

Labour is ambitious for New Zealand. National is ambiguous.

We will promote our plans for innovation, upskilling, infrastructure development – including broadband rollout – and trade negotiations to drive the economy forward.

In the next few weeks I will be announcing significant new policies in critical areas such as health, education, and housing.

We will be promoting bold initiatives to lift the educational achievements of young New Zealanders.

We will be promoting our major sustainability initiatives, following the passage of the emissions trading legislation.

New Zealand is now a world leader in its action programme on climate change. Labour will keep it that way.

We are committed to keeping up the fast pace of Treaty settlements, and to building a 21st century New Zealand inclusive of all ethnicities and faiths.

We will continue to prioritise the arts, culture and heritage sectors as they contribute so much to defining New Zealand’s unique identity of which we are so proud.

I lead a government which over nine years has brought about a remarkable transformation for the better in New Zealand’s economy and society and boosted the pride and confidence we New Zealanders have in our nation.

There are still big challenges ahead of our country. Our government must lead New Zealand through a time of international economic turmoil, the challenges of an ageing population, and the need to keep improving health and education services and our infrastructure.

Labour has continually rolled out big and new policies to take New Zealand families and our country ahead.

In this last term we’ve

• Rolled out cheaper doctors’ fees across New Zealand so that families no longer have to think twice about taking their children to the doctor.

• Ensured that Working for Families helps 370,000 families with the costs of bringing up children and lifted more than 130,000 children out of poverty.

• Introduced Twenty Hours free Early Childhood Education - saving many families more than $70 a week per child.

• This year we are funding one teacher to every fifteen new entrant children in our classrooms to give small children the best possible start at school.

• In tertiary education, interest free loans have been critical for our students.

• For older New Zealanders, the lift in the rate of New Zealand Superannuation along with increased rates rebates and now a range of entitlements through the Gold Card have made life easier.

• The introduction of KiwiSaver has given New Zealanders the chance to save for their first homes and for greater security in retirement.

• The shared equity scheme joins Welcome Home Loans as a new initiative to help New Zealanders in to their first homes.

• More than 2,500 police staff have been added to the force over nine years, and still more are budgeted for.

• We’ve massively increased investment in all aspects of our nation’s infrastructure – schools, hospitals, road and rail and public transport, and broadband roll out.

• We’ve been determined to keep our country clean and green and protect our unique environment The emissions trading scheme, the biofuels obligation, the renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives, put New Zealand in a leadership role on these issues. It’s not in our country’s nature to be mere fast followers.

Our record on the economy is strong with New Zealand well positioned to come through the current international downturn.

Unemployment remains at low levels by Western world standards, workforce participation is high, and the Crown’s balance sheet is strong.

Labour has negotiated the biggest trade deal in New Zealand’s history – the FTA with China – and has worked hard to open markets for New Zealand exporters.

We’ve cemented in New Zealand’s reputation as a principled and constructive international player across the wide range of issues confronting the international community.

Our time in office has seen a renaissance of arts and culture and a surge of interest in our nation’s heritage, in no small part due to the importance we have placed on boosting these sectors.

We’ve worked hard at home to promote reconciliation through the Treaty settlement process, to work in partnership with Maori as Treaty partners, and to support the inclusion of all ethnicities, faiths, and cultures in our society.

While there have been recent terrible murders, including of serving police officers, the facts are that overall crime rates are at their lowest levels in a couple of decades, and that serious offenders are serving longer jail sentences under Labour.

Overall, Labour takes pride in what it has achieved with and for New Zealanders.

We’ve shown that we will take the hard decisions and that we will stand up for New Zealand’s interests at all times.

I will be asking New Zealanders to cast a positive vote for a future they can trust.

Nothing is more important. A lot is at stake for New Zealand families. The policies our families, young and old, have come to rely on are seriously at risk.

National has attacked every major Labour policy aimed at making life better for New Zealanders.

They attacked Working for Families, interest free student loans, 20 Hours Free early childhood education, cheaper doctors fees, KiwiSaver, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, and our affordable housing initiatives. Any professed conversion on these policies lacks sincerity. National can’t be trusted.

They attacked our government’s buy back of Kiwi Rail and the Air New Zealand shares.

They’ve attacked us on climate change policy.

They attacked us for staying out of the Iraq War.

Their record shows that they stand for a radically different and backward looking New Zealand, and not for a 21st century future for our people.

Worse, their now not so secret agenda includes

• Selling Kiwibank and other state assets

• Borrowing recklessly for tax cuts.

• Privatising ACC

• Imposing expensive tolls on our roading system

Add to that National’s stated policy of

• Pouring more investment into private schools rather than public and integrated schools

• Weakening workers’ rights

• Undermining cheaper doctors’ fees

• Scrapping much of Labour’s new tax incentive for business R & D and all of the major investment we are making in the future of our major pastoral and food export sector.

It’s clear that National and its leader cannot be trusted with the future of New Zealand.

New Zealanders have everything to lose from electing a party which won’t tell the truth about its policies and wants to put the clock back.

I look forward to fighting this election campaign.

The future of New Zealand is at stake.

Labour has shown through its record in office that we can be trusted with the future of New Zealand.

National’s evasiveness, flip flops, and secret agendas show that it can’t be trusted.

I have advised the Administrator of the Government today that the date for the dissolution of Parliament will be 3 October.

Writ day will follow on 8th October and nomination day will be on 14th October.

The general election will be held on 8th November.


ENDS

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