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News Worthy: What They Said

News Worthy - 3 October 2008 - No. 265

3 October 2008 – No. 265

What they said
In 2000 Helen Clark was saying: “tax cuts are the promises of a visionless and bankrupt people”.

It is hard to believe this is the same Helen Clark who welcomed tax cuts on Wednesday.

Dr Cullen appears to have had a total economic revision. On Wednesday he claimed tax cuts will strengthen the economy and promote growth, when his previous position over many, many years was that they did no such thing.

In November 1999, Dr Cullen said: “if we look across the range of developed countries there is not much to connect average tax rates with average GDP growth levels. Nor is there real evidence to connect tax cuts to growth', and that 'Labour rejects the crude approach to taxation”.

As recently as May 2006, Dr Cullen was reported as saying that tax cuts could not happen unless the country was able to maintain an operating surplus of close to 3% of GDP.

National will have a responsible ongoing programme of personal tax cuts as part of a wider economic plan to get the economy growing again.

It will build on Labour's tax cuts treating them as the first tranche in a tax-cut programme. That will be followed by another tranche of tax reductions on 1 April 2009, and further tranches in 2010 and 2011.

Tackling Our Health Workforce Crisis
Our health professionals are truly world class and provide a level of care second to none. This care is often delivered under trying conditions and with limited resources.

However, this high quality of professional care is being placed at risk by New Zealand’s desperate shortage of doctors, nurses, and midwives. Our health system is in crisis, with workforce shortages in many professional fields.

Critical shortages are affecting New Zealanders throughout the system, with longer waiting times, cancelled surgeries, and difficulties in enrolling with a GP. These shortages are only growing with an ever-aging population, more chronic disease, and patients rightfully wanting the best treatment available.

Current Government strategies are simply not working to address this workforce shortage. Fresh ideas are needed.

Voluntary bonding will be part of a plan that National introduces to address this crisis. The bonding scheme will offer student loan debt write-offs to graduate doctors, nurses, and midwives who agree to work in hard-to-staff communities or specialities.

National expects to be able to offer eligible candidates write-offs of up to $10,000 a year. The amounts would be payable at the end of three years, with the option to continue in the scheme for an additional two years after that.

In practical terms, for a new doctor with a $75,000 debt, after three years, the government will pay $30,000 of that debt. If the doctor then chooses to stay in the scheme for another year or two, then, as a result of their own loan repayments and their bonding payment, they will be debt free.

It is expected that up to 100 doctors a year will qualify, along with about 200 nurses and midwives. The annual debt write-off for nurses will be around $3,500 based on current average debt levels at graduation.

The cost to the taxpayer for this scheme starts at around $3 million in year one, and rises to $9 million in year three. All in all, this is a very small price to pay for the rebuilding of our health workforce.

Research indicates the longer that new graduates stay and work in a community, the more likely they are to continue working in that community or return there after working elsewhere. Voluntary bonding is a vital step towards improving graduate retention and ensuring that incentives are in place to keep doctors, nurses, and midwives in New Zealand.

National will work with a range of organisations, including the professional colleges, universities and the Ministry of Health, to identify the professions and geographical areas where shortages are critical. This will mean more of our health professionals are working in areas where they are most needed.

We want more of our doctors, nurses, and midwives staying in New Zealand. This programme will incentivise them to do so, and relieve some of the staffing pressure in the worst-affected areas.

Quote of the Week

“Have confidence that if you have done a little thing well, you can do a bigger thing well too” – David Malcolm Storey - English playwright, screenwriter

Dr Richard Worth
National Party MP


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