Budget For John’s Mates Not Your Mates
Labour Leader David SHEARER
Budget For John’s Mates Not Your Mates
John Key is spending more time looking after vested interests than the interests of hard-working New Zealanders who aren’t able to get ahead under National, says Labour Leader David Shearer.
“There will be something missing from next week’s Budget – people. You’ll hear lots about glossy business growth agendas and progress reports. But there’ll be nothing in it to help people find decent jobs, buy a house, pay their bills or to stop them moving to Australia.
“This will be a Budget for the boardroom, not the smoko room. It won’t change people’s lives because John Key is more interested in looking after his mates than your mates.
“This Government has made promise after promise in Budget after Budget. But it hasn’t delivered. It has let New Zealanders down.
“It promised 170,000 more jobs. But in the last year there were 30,000 fewer. It promised to help the ‘growing underclass’ but there are now almost 24,000 more people on benefits and 21% of our kids are living in poverty. There are 163,000 New Zealanders who are unemployed. Where is the brighter future?
“The differences between John Key’s National Government and the Labour Government that I will lead are now crystal clear.
“Labour will put people at the heart of everything it does. National has forgotten the hardworking people who are the backbone of this country.
“Labour is prepared to use the power only a Government has to make a real difference to people’s lives – like bringing down power bills and building affordable homes.
“John Key won’t. He’s too focused on share floats to care about the Kiwis working their guts out to make ends meet.
“Labour has the courage to make the big changes that National is afraid to make – changes that will transform the economy for everyone.
“Labour will create a fairer and more equal society. Under National, income inequality is the highest since records began.
“As Prime Minister, I want to create and build – not just trade and sell. I will back New Zealanders who are doing their bit so that we can build a country we can all be proud of,” said David Shearer.
David Shearer's Speech:
Putting People First
A few weeks ago a woman contacted me asking for help.
She and her partner both have jobs. They pay their bills. They keep up with the mortgage and are raising four children.
But they’re struggling to get by from week to week.
She told me their situation is desperate. Her partner even went to Christchurch to try and earn a bit more.
Just the other week their car needed four new tyres to pass the warrant.
That used up the little savings they had and they had to borrow from a friend.
She said “we feel like bad role models for our children because we are constantly struggling”.
But from what she told me, they’re as good a role model as anyone.
They have my utmost respect.
But it’s not right and it’s not fair that it’s so hard to raise a family here.
She’s been let down and left behind by this Government.
John Key isn’t interested in the problems faced by hardworking families like hers.
He’s too focused on share-floats to care about the Kiwis working their guts out to make ends meet.
He’s more focused on his mates than your mates.
So it’ll be no surprise to you that when Bill English delivers his fifth Budget next week, there will be something missing.
You’ll hear a lot about glossy business growth agendas and progress reports.
But there won’t be anything to help you find a job – or get a better job. To help you buy a house, to help you pay your bills or to stop your family moving to Australia.
Because that is this Government’s record.
This government makes promise after promise in Budget after Budget.
But it hasn’t delivered.
So why would you believe them this year?
Let’s take a look at their scorecard.
John Key promised he’d give Kiwis a reason to stay.
But as of last week, 200,000 people have left for Australia since he came to power.
At the last election, he promised 170,000 jobs. But in the last year there were 30,000 fewer.
There are now more than 163,000 New Zealanders unemployed.
In Budget 2010, they promised higher incomes. But since John Key’s been in office rising prices have outstripped pay packets.
In 2007, he promised to help our “growing underclass”. But income inequality in New Zealand is now the highest since records began.
There are now almost 24,000 more people on benefits and 21% of our kids live in poverty.
Under his watch, the gap between the top 10% and the rest of New Zealand is widening faster.
He promised to close the wage gap with Australia too, but New Zealanders are now earning an average of $58 a week less than their neighbours across the Tasman.
In the 2010 Budget, he promised a step-change in the economy. Instead, he has delivered a step-back for many.
John Key once said he was ambitious for New Zealand. I haven’t heard that for a while. The only thing he’s ambitious about now is his excuses.
You’ll have heard yesterday that he’s certainly not ambitious for Wellington – in fact he’s already signed its death warrant.
Talk about absolutely negatively John Key!
This Budget won’t change your life.
It’s a Budget for the boardroom, not the smoko room.
This National Government spends more time looking after vested interests than your interests.
It’s too busy doing back-room deals with gambling houses and movie giants to make sure hard-working New Zealanders have the wages they need to live on.
Too busy protecting the super-profits of power companies to worry about bringing your power bills down.
Too busy selling our assets to find innovative ways to grow our economy.
So who is this Government working for?
Investment bankers, casino operators, property speculators.
And, if you’re lucky enough to be a director of a power company, you’ll have just got a 73% pay increase on top of a $1200 a day special expenses allowance.
But not you and your family.
Times have been tough. We know that. But our main trading partners have turned the corner. Why haven’t we?
The reason is that this Government has got its priorities wrong.
I believe New Zealand can do better.
But we need to change.
We can’t continue as we are, stagnating and sliding down the global rankings.
We need to change New Zealand for the better.
So that it works in the interests of all people.
My vision for New Zealand is a place where people know they can get ahead, a place where the world wants to live and a place we can all be proud of.
A place that rewards talent and hard work, that puts a premium on innovation.
We’ve got to be forward looking. And find ways to create a country of drive and opportunity.
That’s why I will lead a government focused on what works for you and your family.
A government that’s prepared to change things that aren’t working.
I believe in New Zealand.
But we must do better. And we can.
By unlocking opportunities for everyone through better education.
By creating a stronger economy built on skills, creativity, science, hard graft and our natural advantages.
By building a strong, export-led economy.
I say, if you’re doing your bit, we should do ours as a government for the people.
Because you should be rewarded for your talent and hard work – not because you’re someone’s mate.
That’s the guts of the difference between John Key and me.
My Government will put people at the heart of everything we do.
National has forgotten the people who are the backbone of this country.
I recently met the Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, in New York.
He has shown that growing inequality is the number one factor holding countries like New Zealand back.
New Zealand was once one of the most equal societies in the world. And we were proud of that.
But that’s no longer the case.
Now the gap between the top 10% and the rest is widening faster here than in most other Western countries.
National’s tax switch in 2010 made it worse, with the top 10% of earners taking home 40% of the money.
That’s a bonus of $2.25 billion in their pockets.
That flies in the face of what we know – that an equal society is a fairer society.
But just as importantly, closing that gap helps everyone get ahead – and stay ahead.
Because as Stiglitz shows, inequality is bad for business.
My mechanic earns a decent income but he hasn’t been able to give himself a pay rise for the past four or five years.
He’s being squeezed like many other hard-working New Zealanders.
If people like him have nothing left at the end of the week, they have nothing to spend, nothing to invest and nothing to save.
That’s not good for workers, businesses or our economy as a whole.
We need to change. We need to shift to an economy that works for us all.
As Prime Minister, I want to create and build – not just trade and sell.
I want to an economy that grows businesses and creates high-value jobs that keep our talented people here.
It’s time for new, bold ideas that improve lives without pushing the country further into debt.
It’s time for a Government that’s smart, hands on and uses the power it has to make a difference.
We will be prudent, responsible managers of the country’s finances. We will balance our budgets.
I grew up in a Presbyterian household where we didn’t put things on tick. You saved up and lived within your means.
I understand how important that is.
Labour understands that.
The last Labour Government produced Budget surpluses nine years in a row. It left us with amongst the lowest government debt in the world.
When this Government took over, the books were in surplus. Since then every year, year after year, the Government has been in deficit.
This year we will be almost $8 billion dollars short. That means our Government debt today is $58 billion dollars.
As a country, we must live within our means. We can’t go on spending what we don’t have.
That’s why we need a smart, active government to make changes that will benefit people and boost the economy.
That’s what the next Labour Government will do.
Let me take two examples.
NZ Power. It’s a plan that will reduce household power bills by between $230 and $330 a year and limit future power increases.
That makes a big difference because power prices have gone through the roof in New Zealand. You’re being ripped off.
One woman wrote to me this week to say she and her husband have just had their first child.
She wants to do the best by her new family.
But she feels “physically sick” with worry each time she checks the mailbox for her power bill.
As she says: “Parents in NZ shouldn’t feel worried about the basic necessities for their children such as electricity. It makes you feel hopeless.”
NZ Power will change that. It’ll put money back into the hands of people struggling to make ends meet.
And that’s good for the economy too.
Cutting power bills will put cash into the pockets of Kiwis and businesses. Money they will spend and invest.
Independent economists Berl say that extra spending will stimulate our economy, boost GDP by about $450 million and create at least 5,000 jobs.
John Key says power prices aren’t too high. No wonder he’s not prepared to act.
He’s out of touch and not listening to Kiwis.
He’s listening to the power companies and the share-brokers who are protecting their patch.
I say to them: you can choose to buy shares. You can’t choose to buy power.
You should earn a fair return, but not a super profit.
It’s that simple.
So if those big vested interests want to stop consumers getting a better deal and stop our economy getting a boost, well then bring it on.
Because I’m not about to sit around and let that happen.
Let me give you another example.
House prices are rocketing up and the rate of home ownership is sliding.
That’s why we’ve come up with an innovative way to help 100,000 Kiwi families into affordable homes.
It means building houses – bricks and mortar – not fiddling with the RMA or pushing the blame onto councils.
Operating on such a scale means our construction companies can make huge savings. And over time the programme funds itself.
And again, it’s good for our economy and creates thousands of jobs and apprenticeships.
It’s another example of how my Government will be smart and hands-on.
Labour policies will help all New Zealanders, not just the rich and well connected.
Our policies are practical and they put people first.
We need to create opportunities because that’s the only way to tackle inequality.
We’ll start with giving our kids a world-class education. We’ll extend reading recovery and put food in schools so children are ready and able to learn.
We’ll help them discover what they want to do with their lives and make sure they know how to get there.
We’ll make sure people get a decent wage – lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
We’ll champion a living wage so that people can provide for their family.
Our future is a high-wage economy not a low wage one.
Right across the economy we will make fundamental changes that will transform the economy to grow export businesses and create high wage jobs.
Monetary policy will change.
We’ll broaden the objectives of the Reserve Bank to wider than just inflation because the high dollar is killing our exporters.
The research and development policy will change.
Because R&D tax credits will help our smart businesses grow and sell their products to the world.
The tax system will change.
We want to shift investment from speculation on housing to our productive businesses. That’s why we’ll introduce a capital gains tax.
The savings policy will change.
We will enrol everyone into KiwiSaver to secure Kiwis’ future retirement and build an investment pool to power our businesses.
We’ll give Kiwi companies the first crack at big Government contracts. But in return, we’ll expect those companies to hire trainees.
And we’ll pay employers the equivalent of the dole to take on an unemployed person as an apprentice.
And there’s more to come.
We have the courage to make the big changes this Government is afraid to make.
Changes that will transform the economy for everyone.
We have two very different paths before us.
One path – under National leads to disappointment, decline and constant struggle where Kiwis fall behind the rest of the world.
Led by a Government that’s consumed by scandal, broken promises and one that sides with its own mates and vested interests.
Or a Labour Government that puts you first.
That has the courage to make the big changes to improve your life.
That will back New Zealanders who are doing their bit.
My first Budget will be about hope.
It will be about giving hardworking families a reason to believe things will get better.
It will give young Kiwis opportunities and a reason to stay.
It will give families a decent life where their kids can reach their full potential.
It will give businesses the backing they need to flourish.
People are my priority.
At the end of the day, it comes down to a simple question – who do you have faith in?
I put my faith in New Zealanders.
In their ‘can do’ attitude, gutsy approach to life and willingness to do the hard graft.
As Prime Minister, I’ll back you.
I will make the change to a prosperous society.
A fairer society.
And a country that we can all be proud of.