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Hikoi's message still fresh

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The first anniversary today of the Hikoi of Hope is a chance for the Government to reflect on the failure of the social policies that thousands marched against, says Labour social welfare spokesperson Steve Maharey.

"Last year Jenny Shipley hid in her office when thousands gathered at Parliament to tell her 'enough is enough'. She didn't listen then, and she's not listening now.

"Labour supported the aims of the hikoi. We've been listening to New Zealanders and we have the policies to address the concerns they brought to Wellington.

"The hikoi asked for real jobs and Labour will ensure that unemployed people can get the skills they need for work, rather than bullying them with the failed 'community wage' scheme.

"It asked for a public health system New Zealanders can trust, and Labour will deliver a system built on co-operation rather than competition, with elected instead of appointed health boards.

"It asked for benefit and wage levels that move people out of poverty. Labour will deliver a flexible benefit system that tailors support to need, while the repeal of the Employment Contracts Act will end the drift to insecure low-wage jobs.

"It asked for affordable housing, and Labour will deliver state housing with rents pegged to income, not market forces.

"It asked for accessible education, and Labour is committed to cutting the costs to students of tertiary education, starting with a fairer loans scheme.

"By tragic coincidence today is also the first anniversary of the formation of Work and Income NZ, one of the Government's biggest social policy disasters.

"The culture of extravagance in Winz has made a laughing-stock of a vital public service. Even worse, we're seeing long-term unemployment increase while successful subsidised work schemes like Taskforce Green and Job Plus are cut back."

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