News Worthy: The election cometh
19 September 2008 - No. 263
The election cometh
This is the point in the election cycle when politicians are called to account for Party policies. There are a raft of political engagements and speaking opportunities.
The following is a broad summary of my responses to questions from year 13 student from St Cuthberts College, at a political forum last week.
The current government is currently offering interest-free student loans. What is your party's policy on student loans?
* continue the policy of interest free loans
* introduce a 10% repayment bonus on a loan balance - so if a borrower pays $800 off a student loan in a lump sum beyond the compulsory requirement we will take $880 off their loan balance
What strategies does your party feel would be effective in stopping skilled workers leaving the country or encouraging those overseas to return?
We need to make New Zealand attractive to encourage those overseas to return. So we need to sell the benefits of the country.
We need to increase the take-home pay of workers. The gap between Australian and New Zealand salaries is dramatically widening.
Our figures show a gap of 38% in Australia's favour. CTU economist Peter Conway says that, based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the variation between pay packets, adjusted for the exchange rate and cost of living difference, is now a whopping 49.7%
* Each week 760 New Zealanders leave to cross the Tasman
* The Government has a policy of economic transformation but our ranking in the OECD has declined
o Of the 30 countries New Zealand is now ranked 22nd
o We have fallen behind every country in Western Europe except Portugal
o We are ranked below Greece and Italy
o The Czech Republic, and Hungary are hot on our heels
I am an 18 year old girl from St Cuthbert's College. I plan to get a university degree. Why should I vote for you?
We are relentlessly ambitious for New Zealand. We plan
* An ongoing programme of personal tax cuts
* Bringing discipline to government spending
* Tackling bureaucracy and red tape
* An unwavering focus on lifting education standards
* Strengthen infrastructure to help this country grow
Misrepresentation of National Party policy
One of the problems for voters are ongoing attempts by the Labour-led Government to misrepresent National Party policy. The major players in that regard to date have been the CTU and the EPMU.
National has proposed a 90 day probation period for new employees of employers with less than 20 staff.
The CTU response is that it opposes a "fire at will" policy.
So does National.
National's policy is that during the trial period, either party may terminate the employment relationship for performance, without a personal grievance claim being brought.
Personal grievance provisions would still apply for matters not related to performance. Good-faith provisions will apply, as will rights to sick leave, holidays, and health and safety provisions. Rules of natural justice and human rights legislation will be enforced and mediation will be available in disputes.
New Zealand is almost the only country in the OECD that does not have a probationary period for new employees who employers might consider risky at first glance.
This is an effort by National to give opportunities to people who might not otherwise be given a chance to get on the employment ladder. The EPMU employs staff on a six month probationary period, so clearly that union thinks such periods are useful.
The EPMU pamphlet also makes misleading claims about restricting workers' rights to onsite representation, and that workers would be under pressure to sacrifice one week of their holidays.
The claim about representation is quite untrue, and on holidays, National has made it clear that any proposal to exchange a week's holiday for cash has to be at the employee's request.
Political Quote of the Week
"Exhale the dust of the past, inhale the fragrance of the future" - Sri Chinmoy - Indian philosopher and guru (1931-2007)
Dr Richard Worth
National Party MP