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Future Lefts Newsletter

Eliminating World Poverty - Title Of British Govt White Paper.

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CONTENTS:
Editorial: Labour Future
Youth minimum wage increase welcomed
National supports Govt on superannuation
Yellow Stickers defeated!
Website of the Week

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Editorial: Labour Future

In the middle of this year, with the howls of an outraged business community swirling round our heads, some of us in the Labour Party began to think the unthinkable: maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t going to be a four-term government after all. The ferocity of the business attack on the restoration of a public ACC system and the introduction of decent labour laws left us somewhat startled. It soon became apparent though that there was more bark than bite in the reaction of the business community.

Nobody would have predicted that within three months of the depths of the "crisis of confidence" the optimists would outweigh the pessimists by a ratio of 4:1. Nobody would have predicted a highly successful business-government forum that did much to repair relationships that were only ever strained by misleading and hurtful propaganda. Moreover, nobody would have thought after the confidence debacle and the blatant racial stirrings that the Government would go into the summer recess comfortably in possession of its majority in the polls.

It did.

The reason it did is that this Government isn’t the kind of radical reforming administration that the fundamentalists on the right have tried to paint it. By and large, the public understands this. People have slowly got over the election of the first left wing Government since 1972 and have realised that the sky isn’t about to fall in! Far from a lurch to ideological extremes (unlike both the previous two governments, who lurched to the right despite election promises) the Government has shown a commendable ability to keep precisely to the promises it made to the people last November.

It is probably self-evident how important that promise keeping is. Helen Clark hit the nail on the head with this comment at Labour's annual conference: "For years New Zealanders felt their politicians had let them down. There had been too many broken promises, too many weasel words, and too little delivery... I believe many people had almost given up hope that it could ever be different. Our main opponents at the last election were not National and their sidekicks in Act. Our main opponents were cynicism and disillusionment with the political process. Cynicism, disillusionment, and apathy lead to low electoral turnouts. And low turnouts never favour the parties of the centre left."

Quite apart from being the right thing to do, Labour's political future depended on delivering stable government from the centre ground. That is precisely what the party has done. A coalition from the Labour Right to the Alliance Left is stable, working harmoniously to implement firstly a modest reversal to the excesses of the new right of the last fifteen years, and secondly build a vision of the future that includes all New Zealanders.

Yes, that’s right - everyone.

You’ve heard of One Nation Conservatism (or maybe you haven't) - well, welcome to One Nation Socialism. A project to reduce inequalities, end social exclusion, protect the environment, build our cultures and peoples up, and build an economy that can attract and retain talent from all around the world.

Of course the opposition is strenuously trying to pretend that this is a narrow, sectional government. Nothing could be further from the truth. Labour is the only party that can govern for all New Zealand, because it isn’t beholden to a minority interest. National has to keep its business backers happy. Labour, with the union movement behind it, represents working people, which is most everyone in the country.

As long as the Government has learned the lessons of this year, and maintains its now-impressive political management, and the economy continues to do well, and National continues in its current states of alternating confusion and anger, and ACT continues on its racist little path to oblivion, then victory in 2002 is pretty much assured.

Barring accidents.

Till next time,

Jordan

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Youth minimum wage increase welcomed

New Zealand workers on the lowest rates of pay will receive an income boost in 2001, Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson and Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harré announced today.

The Government has agreed to increase the adult minimum wage by 2% to $7.70 an hour, lower the age of eligibility for the adult minimum wage from 20 to 18, and increase the youth minimum wage for 16 and 17 year olds to 70% of the adult minimum wage that is, $5.40 an hour in March 2001, and to 80% of the adult minimum wage, that is $6.15 an hour in March 2002.

The current minimum wage is $7.55 an hour for employees over 20. For workers aged 16 to 19, the current minimum wage is $4.55 an hour (60% of the adult rate).

The coalition has also agreed to replace training exemptions with a training minimum wage at the rate applying to 16 and 17 year olds - $5.40 next year and $6.15 in 2002.

Margaret Wilson and Laila Harré said the minimum wage rate is being increased by the amount of average wage growth in the past year.

"Lowering the threshold for the adult minimum wage to 18 will help ensure that low-paid young people receive wages that are fair," the Ministers said.

"These improvements bring the age of eligibility for adult rates into line with other policies for youth, particularly the community wage and New Zealand's obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child."

An increase in the adult minimum wage to $7.70 an hour will mean wage increases for around 7000 people. The lowering of the threshold for the adult minimum wage will affect about 9000 18 and 19 year olds, and increasing the youth rate to 70% of the adult rate will mean pay rises for about 4,500 16 and 17 year olds.

The changes will come into force on March 5 2001.

Young Labour President Michael Wallmannsberger welcomed the announcement by the Ministers that the youth minimum wage is to increase next year.

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National supports Govt on superannuation

The Government’s proposed Superannuation Fund cleared a major hurdle after a debate in Parliament today.

The scheme has been referred to a select committee that includes representatives from all parties, who have until the end of March to forge a cross party agreement. Even if bipartisan consensus isn’t achieved, the Government is likely to go ahead with some sort of scheme.

The legislation would enable the setting up of a giant Super fund, to be built up from Budget surpluses, that the Government says will cushion the burden of providing state funded retirement pensions for the country’s ageing population. It marks the first serious attempt to address the savings problem for the baby-boomer generation since the Third Labour Government’s scheme from the 1970’s, which was abolished by Muldoon.

Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, told Parliament the scheme represented the best chance to resolve outstanding disagreements.

National Party leader, Jenny Shipley, pointed to areas of conflict but echoed the co-operative spirit, saying the major parties now had substantial agreement for the first time. In an abrupt about-face from National’s previous policies of cutting pensions, raising the age of entitlement and then introducing (later abolishing) a hated surcharge, Mrs. Shipley appeared to recognise that her party’s election defeat last year called for some rethinking.

The Greens were the only party not to back sending the scheme on to the select committee.

Greens co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, said her party had concerns about whether the fund’s money would be put into socially and ecologically sound investments. She said the party would form a view at a caucus meeting next week, but was reserving its position in the meantime.

(with additional reporting from http://www.newsroom.co.nz)

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Yellow Stickers defeated!

Young Labour President Michael Wallmannsberger described today's decision by the Human Rights Commission and the subsequent dropping of the scheme by the Police as a victory for human rights in New Zealand.

The scheme, which has been active in the Christchurch area since late last year, was supposed to prevent car thefts by young people. The Human Rights Commission concluded that the Under-25 sticker scheme was lawful only because of the Government's current exemption from the provision of the Human Rights Act.

"Today's decision is a victory for the organisations and individuals that have spoken out against this scheme," said Mr Wallmannsberger.

"Young Labour has always opposed the Under-25 sticker scheme. We believe that the same basic human rights apply to all people. Young people are no exception.

Mr Wallmannsberger welcomed the Police's quick reaction to dump the scheme but questioned why they had not come to the decision earlier.

"It's been clear to us all along that the scheme wasn't consistent with the Human Rights Act and depended on the 2001 clause to fall within the law. Fortunately, the Police have acted in the spirit of the Commission's finding and have withdrawn the scheme without further delay.

"Young Labour supports innovative ways to reduce crime but believes these must always be consistent with human rights and the law", Mr Wallmannsberger concluded.

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Website of the Week: http://www.globalisation.gov.uk

“Eliminating World Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor” is the title of the site, and shows the ambitions of the Blair Government aren’t just limited to the UK! The site is host to the UK Government’s latest white paper on international development, which goes by the title above. It has an interesting perspective on globalisation, and a wide range of background papers which could be of interest - you can find them from the links page. Worth a browse.

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All submissions should be to the editor, Jordan Carter, at carters@ihug.co.nz, or the assistant editor, Michael Wood, at michael@semrits.co.nz.

While this newsletter is published in the name of Young Labour, the contents is entirely the responsibility of the editor and the views expressed here don't constitute any official position of Young Labour. All contents copyright (c) 2000. Subscribe at http://www.younglabour.org.nz.

Keeping our word - one year in: http://www.labour.org.nz


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