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Countdown to National's defeat begins

Labour
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Today's announcement of the general election date marks the beginning of the countdown to National's defeat, says Labour leader Helen Clark.

"The Government led by National has been a shambles since soon after the 1997 election. Only the self-interest of the rag-tag mob of defectors has kept the Government in place until the bitter end of this three-year term.

"National is out of date, out of touch and out of time. Its self-proclaimed reputation as an economic manager is in tatters. Friday's dismal GDP figure, showing the economy in recession in the June quarter, put paid to any hopes National had of running on its record.

"Labour fully expects that National's campaign will be based on lies, smears and fears, because it has nothing positive to promote or defend.

"Labour's campaign in contrast will be positive. New Zealanders have high hopes for the future. Only a change of government and a new direction for New Zealand can deliver on those hopes.

"We know the world can't be changed overnight, but we also know that change must begin to rebuild a more prosperous and fairer society.

"Our pledges to New Zealand are set out in the commitment card I launched in May. Those commitments place as our top priorities: creating jobs, through more support for industry and business growth; lowering the cost to students of tertiary education; putting patients before profits and reducing waiting times for surgery; reversing National's 1999 superannuation cuts and building a fund to secure the future of New Zealand Superannuation; restoring income-related rents for state housing so that low-income tenants pay no more than 25% of their household income in rent; cracking down on burglary; and guaranteeing no increases in GST, company tax, or in personal or impersonal income tax for the 95% of New Zealanders earning under $60,000 a year.

"For too many years now New Zealand has followed a failed model of economic and social policy. That model has run its course. It's time for a change that puts the public interest first.

"While a small number of New Zealanders on high incomes have prospered, middle income households have been squeezed hard and poor New Zealanders subsist as best they can.

"Labour's vision is to see a more dynamic economy boosting the living standards of all New Zealanders and sustaining top quality public services in areas like health and education. We want New Zealanders to have a quality of life, environmentally and culturally, that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

"The choice before New Zealanders is clear: a fresh start on rebuilding a strong economy and fair society, or a continuation of the shambles of the last three years and the unfairness of the last nine.

"Labour's upbeat campaign offering hope for the future will be in stark contrast to National's deathbed defence of its appalling record."

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