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Lianne Dalziel - Labour's commitments

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There is considerable public antipathy towards politics right now; no doubt assisted by political parties not matching their pre-election words with post-election deeds. Labour intends to rectify that, by making commitments we intend to honour, and by putting it in writing so you can ensure that we deliver.

But there is, in my view, another reason for the public to despair of politics right now, and that has been the galling sight of over a dozen MPs remaining in Parliament despite the fact they no longer belong to the Party that got them elected in the first place.

This is anti-democratic, as Parliament no longer reflects the voting intentions of the public as expressed at the last election. Labour will pass a law to ensure that if an MP leaves the Party that gets them elected, they will automatically be deemed to have resigned their seat in Parliament. An electorate MP could then stand in a by-election to receive a fresh mandate - a list MP would simply be replaced by the next person on the list.

Turning to the commitment card :

The first commitment is to create jobs through promoting NZ industries and better support for exporters and small businesses. The current ideology is to let the market determine everything - it's a government 'hands off' approach which has been a disaster. Government can play a constructive role in helping businesses grow, and encouraging businesses to co-operate locally to compete internationally.
One-stop-shops that combine local assistance with Tradenz, will help businesses grow their markets and increase real jobs.

The second commitment is about turning the health system around so that its focus is on patients not profit. In particular we need to cut waiting times for surgery. The booking system has been little more than a cruel hoax for the people sent back to their GP with no hope of an operation at all. The market model imposed on our health system has been a disaster from start to finish, and it will be Labour's task to restore the goals of a public health system coupled with democratic accountability.

The third commitment is to cut the cost to students of tertiary education, starting with a fairer loans scheme. At the moment students start to accumulate interest from the day they borrow. As a first priority, Labour will ensure that interest does not apply to the loan, while they are studying.

The fourth commitment is to reverse the 1999 cuts to superannuation. Previously, the married rate of superannuation could not fall below 65% of the average wage. This floor was cut to 60% effective 1 April this year. This has had a huge effect on retired people who have no other income. Labour will restore the 65% floor. And as a commitment to future sustainability, Labour will ringfence the amount needed from current taxation to establish a separate superannuation fund.

The fifth commitment is to restore income related rents for state housing tenants, so that low income tenants pay no more than 25% of their income in rent. We will maintain an accommodation benefit for people in private sector rentals.

The sixth commitment is to crack down on burglary and youth crime. The one thing that many serious offenders have in common is a string of burglary convictions, and yet burglary clearance rates are very low. There's around a 90% chance of getting away with a burglary, and we want police to be able to focus on this as an early intervention strategy. With respect to youth crime, we have a range of pre-school and school-based early intervention strategies, which we believe will make a difference.

The final commitment is how do we pay for all this. We have proposed a modest tax increase of 6 cents in the dollar for income earned over $60,000 per annum. But what that means is that 95% of taxpayers will have no increase in their taxes over the three-year term.

There will be, of course, much more detail when we release Labour's manifesto for the 1999 Election. But Labour believes that you have a right to know what we will deliver in Government.

I cannot emphasise enough how much I believe this election represents a real turning point in our history. Do we want to continue down the direction we are heading in, or do we want a change in direction? Labour represents fairness, security and opportunity, and a commitment to deliver on what is promised..

The worst thing would be a government by default - where apathy and cynicism leaves people at home on election day. Your age group shows the highest enrolment figures around the country. So make sure your children and grandchildren are on the roll, and make sure they all get out to vote.

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