Helen Clark on the 1st 100 days of a Labour Govt
We are now in the last week of what has been a very long election campaign.
For me, it's been a campaign which has run since May this year.
At that time, our party met for its election year congress here in Wellington.
There we released our commitment card - our seven pledges to New Zealanders.
We took those commitments out to New Zealanders.
And so, not just in this campaign month, but for many months, we have been on the road.
Our campaign has been very open.
We've invited New Zealanders to meet with us all over this country.
And countless thousands have.
We've talked about our vision for the future - where opportunity and security are not blocked, but where we positively go out of our way to create it.
And we've talked about the fundamental value which must underlie every thought and action of the new government.
That value is fairness.
Because what has been happening in New Zealand isn't fair.
It's not fair to the young.
It's not fair to their parents, and it's not fair to our grandparents either.
People feel that our country's leaders have no moral centre.
That they don't care about the many - but only about the few.
That the ordinary hardworking people of this country don't get a fair share.
And they don't.
And that's what is about to change in New Zealand.
Because next Saturday, 27 November, can be the start of a whole new era in New Zealand politics.
If we elect Labour to government on that day, then my commitment is that we will deliver a government people can trust.
It will be open.
It will be accountable.
And above all it will be fair in its policies and the way it conducts its business.
At the start of this campaign month, I said that this election was about far more than just a campaign to change the government.
Because it is.
For me, this campaign is a crusade to take back our country.
For so long now we have had values of selfishness and meanness preached at us by our rulers.
That arrogance in promoting those values will reach new heights this week.
We will be told in their dirty tricks advertisements that Labour's plan to ask someone on $80,000 a year to pay back last year's tax cut of $23 a week will destroy the economy.
We will be told that Labour's plan to restore fairness in the workplace will drag our country down.
My message to National today is this:
New Zealanders are not nodding with you.
They are laughing at you.
You have reduced politics to a farce and a shambles.
There have been too many lies, too many scandals, and there's been too much unfairness. And you have no vision, except to block others who have.
Your time is up.
You must go.
New Zealanders want a fresh start on every level.
Labour starts with hope, because we know New Zealanders deserve better.
How is it that a nation which once enjoyed close to the highest living standards in the western world is now near the bottom of the class?
That takes some leadership!
Dragging our country downhill was easy.
Climbing back up to where we can be will be a challenge.
But we have to start - and soon, before more of our best and brightest people and companies exit for a better life elsewhere.
There is no more urgent task before the new government than rebuilding an economy and a society which creates the opportunities for people to get ahead.
We know what doesn't work.
The heavy handed government of the Muldoon era drove New Zealand to the wall.
But the no-handed government hasn't delivered the goods either.
And that's why, like our friends in Western Europe and North American, we have come to talk of a third way
- of smart, active, intelligent
- of government of vision and purpose
- of government committed to leadership, to partnership, to facilitation, and to funding where the market fails and where investment in people is so critical.
Nothing is more important than backing the people who through their talent and creativity across all sectors will open the doors for others to have opportunity and a chance for a decent living.
"Do nothing" government is prepared to let those opportunities pass by.
Last week I visited a company typical of those constrained by government indifference.
They weren't asking for a hand out - but for a hand up because they knew what could be achieved.
This company, working out of west Auckland, is becoming the preferred tenderer for huge overseas contracts.
But to secure them, it has to take on more risk than a bank really wants to back.
That's where smart, active government can come in - and that's where it does come in everywhere else in the western world.
Other countries like ours have governments committed to export credit guarantee schemes which make sure their companies can prosper in the tough global trading environment.
That way, they not only win more contracts, but they also create more jobs.
A company which wins new international business can be a company which expands from one shift to two or three.
That's great news for workers and it's great news for New Zealand.
And that's why Labour in government will back practical ways of growing our export-oriented businesses strongly.
We want more jobs, and we want the virtuous cycle that goes with them:
· more wealth for New Zealand
· less unemployment
· more people contributing, and
· more revenue to invest in our common future.
And a concern for our common future is increasingly preoccupying New Zealanders.
Most of us are not poor, but we can't ignore the impact on our country of those who have been abandoned.
We daily read of the impact in the third world health statistics on some of our people, and particularly on the health of our children.
We are shocked by the high levels of violent crime.
We know these things don't happen in a vacuum. They happen because very large cracks have opened up in our society, and the least fortunate have crashed through them - endangering us all.
And for the ordinary hardworking family, there are the everyday concerns.
Everything has gone up - except real disposable income.
Middle income families have been squeezed hard - by the costs of education, and health, and higher charges for other basic utilities and services.
In Elizabethan England, the government began taxing windows.
The modern day equivalent has been the rip-off on the new drivers licences - felt most acutely by the elderly and by modest income earners who drive for a living.
On top of all that, people are told to save for their retirement. That's a forlorn hope for many.
Labour brings a simple and clear philosophy to easing the pressures on ordinary hard working families.
We say there are things governments must do - and must do well - and that we are committed to doing those things well.
Those things are health, education, and a decent retirement income.
Over our lifetimes, there are times when most of us will pay in taxes more than we get back in services.
But the deal is that when we need those services, they are there for us and our families.
Since birth, I have been in hospital once in my life: at age six with a collapsed lung and pneumonia. Others have had more dramatic experiences. But the common experience is that the public health system saved our lives.
And that's why health remains one of the critical issues this election.
That's why the National MP will lose in Coromandel.
He's stood by while his party has reduced the local health service to a shadow of what it was when Labour left office nine years ago.
And that's why Georgina Beyer will be the new MP in the Wairarapa. Because unlike the present MP, the Minister of Health, she won't stand by and make excuses while services close.
And the same principle applies to education.
Nothing is more important to our families than knowing that the school system can deliver the goods for their child and that the higher education and training which are essential for prospects in adult life are available and affordable.
Because user pays in education doesn't add up for the ordinary family.
When your children are in school and when they seek education and training beyond that, that is the time in your life when you need government backing.
But on the right of politics, they don't see it that way any more.
Government support for education is described as middle class welfare.
That's code for user pays in schools - just like National has pushed it in tertiary education.
And is it any coincidence that Act's twenty cent flat tax rate would wipe out around half of the current spending on education?
Middle New Zealand harbours deep concern about Act's influence on the political process.
But one thing is clear, if you vote National you get Act.
If you don't, you won't.
And then there's New Zealand Superannuation and its future.
Two years ago, this country was put through a tiresome debate about compulsory private superannuation.
One useful fact emerged from that debate.
It was that over a lifetime of saving, a significant proportion of people couldn't save enough to be paid the equivalent of New Zealand Superannuation in their old age.
That's why in its wisdom in the 1930s, the first Labour Government introduced social security and the old age pension.
That took away the insecurity and fear of old age. And it committed us all to contributing to the welfare of our older citizens when they could no longer do that for themselves.
That simple move banished poverty in old age.
It took the pressures off families.
And my commitment to you is that Labour will keep faith with families and grandparents and ensure that New Zealand Superannuation is there for today's retired people and for the generations to come.
For so many reasons, New Zealanders want the new government to make a real difference.
But these reasons go beyond economic and social policy to the heart of the governmental process.
I have said many times that there is a major clean-up to be done in Parliament and in the public sector.
Those who have given public service a bad name will have to change their ways.
To MPs, the message is simple.
You will stay with the party whose voters put you in Parliament - or you will get out.
Those of you who have betrayed your voters in this term of Parliament, and the term before, have brought public disrespect for the institution of Parliament to new heights.
That behaviour will not be tolerated.
And to those in public sector management who have forgotten how to spell the words 'public service', I say get ready for change. The party is over.
You have let down the public, and you have let down the loyal hardworking public servants in your agencies who toil on for lower salaries than you do.
We want a culture change starting at the top - driven by basic principles of moderation, thrift, and service to the public.
Because we want to be able to look the ordinary hard working taxpayer in the eye and say their money is being well spent.
We can't do that while you live the life of Riley, while you get golden handshakes for incompetence, and when your spending over-runs lead to lay-offs of front line police the community desperately needs.
In the first 100 days the new government will be very busy. Today I am outlining just twenty-one of our many first steps to show how different the new government will be.
We hope to be able to call Parliament together before Christmas.
· There will be a bill ready to introduce immediately to stop members of Parliament defecting from their party.
Then over the summer the hard work will begin on the core of our programme to restore fairness, opportunity, and security.
· We will move swiftly to set up the new industry and business growth agency so that it can work on implementing our policies to grow the economy.
· Work will begin on the new apprenticeship legislation. The shortage of skills across the economy is now a serious constraint on our ability to generate sustainable economic growth.
· We will hold the first meeting of the new local government forum. This forum will be the opportunity for central and local government to begin building a new relationship which recognises the pivotal role local government plays in this country and allows us to begin working together on the Local Economic Assistance Programme which will bring jobs to the regions.
· We will review the minimum wage and draw up the legislation to lower the adult minimum rate to all those aged eighteen and over.
· We will make rapid progress on the new legislation to replace the Employment Contracts Act. The new law will be in place next year.
· We will establish the new Science and Innovation Advisory Council.
· We will begin work with the public hospital sector to get it working to full capacity to reduce waiting times for treatment.
· We will finalise a timetable with the Mental Health Commission for implementation of the blueprint for mental health services.
· We will get rid of the interest on loans for full-time and other low income students while they are studying.
· We will set up the new Tertiary Education Commission to begin rebuilding a collaborative and co-operative tertiary sector.
· On 1 April - just outside the first 100 days we will increase superannuation back to the minimum level agreed in the Accord of no less than 65 per cent of the after tax, ordinary time, average wage for the married rate. The single rate will be raised in line with that.
· Work will begin immediately on getting the administrative system in place to reintroduce income-related rents and a social allocation system for state housing in future.
· We will sit down with the police to establish burglary reduction targets for next year.
· We will establish the Royal Commission of Enquiry into Genetic Modification.
· We will establish the inquiries on the electricity and telecommunications sectors to see whether change in the level of regulation is warranted.
· We will move to fund the Plunket line for 24 hour coverage.
· We will urgently review the National Government's decision to lease and purchase the F-16 aircraft.
· We will require all government agencies to identify exactly what they are spending on reducing the gaps between Maori and other New Zealanders and to start work on Labour's initiatives to close the gaps.
· We will split the Resource Management Bill presently before Parliament and drop all those provisions which skew the law against local government and community interests.
· As Prime Minister I shall be stepping in to back the arts, cultural, and whole creative sector with new initiatives to back new talent and existing talent to express the identity of our nation, and to entertain, inform, and raise the pride of New Zealanders in our creative achievements
There is so much to be done. But that applies to the next six days too.
o First and foremost: there is an election to be won.
More than ten per cent of eligible voters have not yet enrolled.
They can enrol up until next Friday at 5.00pm.
I urge our party organisation to leave no stone unturned to find those missing voters and make sure their votes count.
o Secondly we have five days of campaigning left - and an election day on which we must maximise turnout.
I know I can count on you to do everything you can to bring the Labour message of vision, hope and practical policies to every household in New Zealand.
o Thirdly I have a message to two groups of voters.
To those New Zealanders who are still undecided about how to vote, I urge you to come across to Labour to give us the strong mandate we need to drive the next government.
National cannot win. It is in the interests of middle New Zealand that Labour is a very strong force in the new government.
And I also have a message for Maoridom. So many of you are returning to Labour with new hope for the future. You know it is the party vote that is critical.
But in the Maori electorates, the electorate vote is assuming a new significance.
There are candidates wooing your vote who are not committed to a change of government.
Only your Labour candidates in the Maori electorates can ensure that change.
A vote for others is a vote for confusion.
I stand before you today humbled by what I hear and see around me in the electorate.
I know that people are responding to our message of hope for a new deal in the new century.
I know that they have stopped listening to those who campaign on fears and smears and offer only more of the same old shambles and unfairness.
But in the end there is only one poll that matters.
That poll is next Saturday. I take nothing for granted except that this party will leave no stone unturned to win this election to give New Zealand the fresh start it needs and it deserves.
Our crusade has only just begun.
Let's see it through, and let's begin to make
the difference our country is crying out