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Calls For TV Debates on Future of Public Services

July 2, 2008

PSA Calls For TV Debates on Future of Public Services

The Public Service Association is today asking TVNZ and TV3 to screen debates between the Prime Minister Helen Clark and Opposition Leader John Key on the future of public services.

The PSA represents 55,000 workers providing public services in the state sector and local government. The union has just released advertisements asking New Zealanders to consider the impact that tax cuts, larger than those provided in the Budget, will have on public services.

“Rail and ferry services returning to public ownership has put the issue of control and investment in public services, firmly in the spotlight,” says PSA National Secretary, Brenda Pilott.

“History shows us that 15 years of private ownership of rail has resulted in a major run down of services through asset stripping, profit-taking and chronic under investment in the track and rolling stock.”

Brenda Pilott says the story of rail shows New Zealanders have a clear choice. “Do we invest to ensure we have strong public services or do we allow them to be weakened through lack of investment?”

“It’s hard to think of something that touches more people, more often, than public services. That’s why they deserve a dedicated debate in this year’s election,” says Brenda Pilott.

She called for the TV debates in an open letter being sent today to the head of news and current affairs at TVNZ, Anthony Flannery, and to TV3’s head of news, Mark Jennings. A copy of her letter follows this release.

The PSA’s radio, and on-line advertisements, ask New Zealanders to consider the impact that tax cuts, larger than those budgeted for, will have on public services.

“The reality is that tax cuts, larger than those budgeted for, will have to be paid for by cutting public services,” says Brenda Pilott. “This will happen either through direct cuts in programmes, making people pay user charges, or increasing government borrowing which will inevitably have to be paid back by a reduction in public services.”

Most New Zealanders believe this is too high a price to pay for larger tax cuts.

A UMR Research poll shows that 60% of New Zealanders don’t want tax cuts, bigger than those in the Budget, if they have to be paid for by reduced public service spending or increased government borrowing. 71% would prefer to keep taxes at current levels than have higher user charges for public services.

And close to half of New Zealanders, 49%, want the politicians to tell them now, how they’ll pay for their election promises.

“New Zealanders value their public services and want to know what impact larger tax cuts will have on their services,” says Brenda Pilott. “This is why we are calling for the television networks to screen a debate on this crucial issue.”

You can listen to the PSA radio advert, and view the online advert, by going to: www.psa.org.nz/election

The letter the PSA has sent to TVNZ and TV3.

Dear Mr Flannery/Mr Jennings,

On behalf of the workers who deliver public services to New Zealanders, and the people who use them everyday, the Public Service Association writes to ask that you consider screening a debate on the future of public services.

From health care to education; criminal justice to culture; environmental protection to food safety and ACC to border security, the work done by public service workers touches the lives of New Zealanders in communities large and small. Strengthening or weakening these services, or having them provided by the private sector which will require a profit, will affect our society and our economy. We believe that all New Zealanders need to hear what the two major political parties have planned for our public services in the future.

There are five main reasons we feel the debate is warranted:

First the Government buying back rail and ferry services has put the issue of public services and privatisation, firmly in the spotlight.

Second, public services are the most likely place that money will be found to pay for tax cuts larger than those provided for in this year’s Budget.

A UMR Research poll shows that New Zealanders value their public services and don’t want them weakened. 60% don’t want tax cuts, bigger than those in the Budget, if they have to be paid for by reduced public service spending or increased government borrowing. 71% would prefer to keep taxes at current levels than have higher user charges for public services. Clearly voters want to know how larger tax cuts will be paid for

Third, there is little disagreement among parties that a core duty of government is providing health, education and services that protect New Zealanders. What’s needed is a debate on the areas where the parties disagree such as staffing levels in the public services, using the private sector to deliver public services and how much regulation is needed. The answers to these questions will have a major impact on the shape of New Zealand in the future.

Fourth, New Zealanders consistently say they value their public services. In a State Services Commission study released in April this year, 68 per cent of the 6,500 people surveyed were satisfied with the government services they’d recently used. This is equal to the satisfaction rating in Canada, which is recognised as a world leader in citizen-centred public services.

Independent studies, such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers’s analysis of ACC show the benefits of having publicly owned not-for-profit public services. The study found that state provision of accident compensation performs as well, or better, than most other schemes around the world. PriceWaterhouseCoopers also estimated that effective injury management by ACC is worth $315 million a year to the New Zealand economy.

And fifth, although New Zealand’s public service is not big by world standards, it remains a significant employer. The next Parliament will decide the future of thousands of jobs in almost every community. If a private company affected the economic fabric so deeply, its CEO would be asked to provide details of what the company was planning to do. As the ultimate employer for so many New Zealanders party leaders seeking to become Prime Minister should be asked to explain the impact their policies will have on the employment of so many workers.

The PSA, and no doubt other unions representing public sector workers, would be pleased to discuss our call for a television debate in greater detail. This election year, we are working with all parties to foster a respectful, fact-based debate about the future of public services. For more information go to www.psa.org.nz/election.

We appreciate your consideration of our request as your thoughts turn to how New Zealand’s media can help New Zealand voters make informed decisions in this important election year.

Sincerely,

Brenda Pilott,
PSA national secretary

What’s at stake in Election 08: www.psa.org.nz/election provides facts, polls, party positions and more
Strong Public Services. Worth Voting For.

PSA MEDIA RELEASE
July 2, 2008
For Immediate Use
PSA Calls For TV Debates on Future of Public Services

The Public Service Association is today asking TVNZ and TV3 to screen debates between the Prime Minister Helen Clark and Opposition Leader John Key on the future of public services.

The PSA represents 55,000 workers providing public services in the state sector and local government. The union has just released advertisements asking New Zealanders to consider the impact that tax cuts, larger than those provided in the Budget, will have on public services.

“Rail and ferry services returning to public ownership has put the issue of control and investment in public services, firmly in the spotlight,” says PSA National Secretary, Brenda Pilott.

“History shows us that 15 years of private ownership of rail has resulted in a major run down of services through asset stripping, profit-taking and chronic under investment in the track and rolling stock.”

Brenda Pilott says the story of rail shows New Zealanders have a clear choice. “Do we invest to ensure we have strong public services or do we allow them to be weakened through lack of investment?”

“It’s hard to think of something that touches more people, more often, than public services. That’s why they deserve a dedicated debate in this year’s election,” says Brenda Pilott.

She called for the TV debates in an open letter being sent today to the head of news and current affairs at TVNZ, Anthony Flannery, and to TV3’s head of news, Mark Jennings. A copy of her letter follows this release.

The PSA’s radio, and on-line advertisements, ask New Zealanders to consider the impact that tax cuts, larger than those budgeted for, will have on public services.

“The reality is that tax cuts, larger than those budgeted for, will have to be paid for by cutting public services,” says Brenda Pilott. “This will happen either through direct cuts in programmes, making people pay user charges, or increasing government borrowing which will inevitably have to be paid back by a reduction in public services.”

Most New Zealanders believe this is too high a price to pay for larger tax cuts.

A UMR Research poll shows that 60% of New Zealanders don’t want tax cuts, bigger than those in the Budget, if they have to be paid for by reduced public service spending or increased government borrowing. 71% would prefer to keep taxes at current levels than have higher user charges for public services.

And close to half of New Zealanders, 49%, want the politicians to tell them now, how they’ll pay for their election promises.

“New Zealanders value their public services and want to know what impact larger tax cuts will have on their services,” says Brenda Pilott. “This is why we are calling for the television networks to screen a debate on this crucial issue.”

You can listen to the PSA radio advert, and view the online advert, by going to: www.psa.org.nz/election


For further comment call PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott on 027 430-6016
Media contact: Nick Hirst 04 917-2028, 027 600-5498

The letter the PSA has sent to TVNZ and TV3.

Dear Mr Flannery/Mr Jennings,

On behalf of the workers who deliver public services to New Zealanders, and the people who use them everyday, the Public Service Association writes to ask that you consider screening a debate on the future of public services.

From health care to education; criminal justice to culture; environmental protection to food safety and ACC to border security, the work done by public service workers touches the lives of New Zealanders in communities large and small. Strengthening or weakening these services, or having them provided by the private sector which will require a profit, will affect our society and our economy. We believe that all New Zealanders need to hear what the two major political parties have planned for our public services in the future.

There are five main reasons we feel the debate is warranted:

First the Government buying back rail and ferry services has put the issue of public services and privatisation, firmly in the spotlight.

Second, public services are the most likely place that money will be found to pay for tax cuts larger than those provided for in this year’s Budget.

A UMR Research poll shows that New Zealanders value their public services and don’t want them weakened. 60% don’t want tax cuts, bigger than those in the Budget, if they have to be paid for by reduced public service spending or increased government borrowing. 71% would prefer to keep taxes at current levels than have higher user charges for public services. Clearly voters want to know how larger tax cuts will be paid for

Third, there is little disagreement among parties that a core duty of government is providing health, education and services that protect New Zealanders. What’s needed is a debate on the areas where the parties disagree such as staffing levels in the public services, using the private sector to deliver public services and how much regulation is needed. The answers to these questions will have a major impact on the shape of New Zealand in the future.

Fourth, New Zealanders consistently say they value their public services. In a State Services Commission study released in April this year, 68 per cent of the 6,500 people surveyed were satisfied with the government services they’d recently used. This is equal to the satisfaction rating in Canada, which is recognised as a world leader in citizen-centred public services.

Independent studies, such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers’s analysis of ACC show the benefits of having publicly owned not-for-profit public services. The study found that state provision of accident compensation performs as well, or better, than most other schemes around the world. PriceWaterhouseCoopers also estimated that effective injury management by ACC is worth $315 million a year to the New Zealand economy.

And fifth, although New Zealand’s public service is not big by world standards, it remains a significant employer. The next Parliament will decide the future of thousands of jobs in almost every community. If a private company affected the economic fabric so deeply, its CEO would be asked to provide details of what the company was planning to do. As the ultimate employer for so many New Zealanders party leaders seeking to become Prime Minister should be asked to explain the impact their policies will have on the employment of so many workers.

The PSA, and no doubt other unions representing public sector workers, would be pleased to discuss our call for a television debate in greater detail. This election year, we are working with all parties to foster a respectful, fact-based debate about the future of public services. For more information go to www.psa.org.nz/election.

We appreciate your consideration of our request as your thoughts turn to how New Zealand’s media can help New Zealand voters make informed decisions in this important election year.

Sincerely,

Brenda Pilott,
PSA national secretary

What’s at stake in Election 08: www.psa.org.nz/election provides facts, polls, party positions and more
Strong Public Services. Worth Voting For.

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