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Progressives' strength to care about workers

Hon Jim Anderton

Progressive Party leader

30 September 2008 Media Statement

Progressives' strength to care about workers

Defending four weeks' paid annual leave was one of the Progressive Party's top priorities for this election, Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton said today.

That policy and others achieved by the Labour-Progressive coalition Government were threatened by proposals mooted by the National Party and its ally, ACT, he said.

"Workers have been helped by the presence of the Progressive Party in the Government coalition, and need to think carefully about what's important to them when voting."

Jim Anderton told a union forum in Christchurch that government achievements such as the fourth week of annual leave and the paid parental leave scheme were in place solely because of the contribution of the Progressive Party in the Labour-Progressive coalition government.

The party had also backed measures such as increasing the minimum wage for all workers nine times in eight years so that it is now $200 a week more than it was in 1999 - from $7 an hour to $12 an hour now - and introducing measures that have reduced unemployment to the lowest levels for over two decades at a time when we have one of the highest workforce participation rates in the OECD.

"Youth unemployment has been almost eliminated. Ten years ago, people told me I was dreaming to have that as a goal - today, we've just about achieved it."

Jim Anderton said those measures were worth fighting for, and workers needed to remember what was at stake when they voted.

"This election is all about the choice between two directions for New Zealand.

"Voters need to choose between going back to the failed policies of the past with National, or moving to a stronger New Zealand that cares for all citizens with Labour and the Progressives."

He said the Progressive Party would campaign on four things:
the retention of Kiwibank as a locally-owned bank providing the best deal for New Zealanders;
policies that care for New Zealanders, such as a $200 winter power bill rebate for low and fixed income households and support for young people;
policies that will enhance New Zealand's economy, such as the New Zealand Fast Forward initiative which will see up to $2billion invested in food and pastoral agriculture innovation over 15 years; and
opposition to National's policies to sell Kiwibank, cut paid annual leave entitlements, and to put the highest taxes in decades on innovation.


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