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John Minto Launches His Mana Campaign

John Minto Launches His Mana Campaign

I’ve always believed that political activists can be more effective out in the community than in parliament so I’ve never joined any political party before. However this changed on 19 May this year when I joined the Mana Movement.

I joined because the struggles of working New Zealanders must be taken to the heart of parliament and the Mana Movement is the best opportunity for this to happen in a generation.

The Mana Movement is Maori inspired and Maori led but with policies for all New Zealanders. We know that if we get things right for Maori we will get them right for everyone.

The movement has endorsed my selection as the Mana candidate for Manukau East at the forthcoming election. I put up my hand to stand in Manukau East because I spent 12 years working in this electorate as a teacher at Hillary College (1986 – 1990) and Tangaroa College (2000 to 2005) and because it’s a community which has been left behind and abandoned by politicians for many decades.

The current MP is all but invisible and the votes of the Pacific Island, Maori, Pakeha and Asian workers who reside here have been taken for granted by Labour for too long. After pocketing their votes Labour has delivered little but unrelenting hardship for these people who are the lowest paid but the hardest working people in New Zealand.

At recent meetings in the electorate most people don’t have a clue who their MP is and some are pretty sure they don’t actually have an MP. While the party vote will be Mana’s top priority, I’ll be giving the electorate the chance to vote for an MP who will be highly visible, energetic and who will thrust the tough situation for families from low-income communities into the centre of political debate. Rather than being marginalized by National and patronized by Labour the families of Manukau East will have the Mana Movement as their champions in parliament.

This electorate has high unemployment (it had the highest in the country in 2006) and it’s here the neo liberal policies of the past 27 years have bitten the hardest. The communities throughout this electorate have serious issues of poverty, poor health and educational underachievement. The families typically have two or three breadwinners all working long hours on low pay in insecure employment. Housing is too often of poor quality and expensive.

Many families are struggling to maintain their dignity and respect against near impossible odds.

For the past 27 years Labour has been in government for 15 years and National for 12 years. Both parties have presided over the biggest redistribution of wealth this country has ever seen. Wealth has been transferred from those on low incomes and deposited in obscene, unearned amounts into the back pockets of a tiny number of super-wealthy. Last year the 150 wealthiest New Zealanders increased their wealth by seven billion dollars while tax cuts for the rich and GST increases for the poor continue to stretch the citizenship gap.

The Mana Movement will be presenting policies for the benefit of everyone in the Manukau East electorate but in terms of this election campaign I will be focusing on these Mana policies:

Economic justice:

- Abolish GST completely.
- Make the first $26,500 tax free for everyone with progressive taxation above this level.
- Introduce a proper capital gains tax where all sources of income are taxed at the personal tax rate.
- Introduce a “Hone Heke” tax on financial transactions.
- Introduce an inheritance tax.

Livelihoods:

- Put full employment at the heart of economic policy.
- Immediately increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour (1 April 2012) and raise it to two-thirds of the average wage (1 April 2013).
- Support changes to employment relations laws that give workers greater bargaining power to negotiate wages and conditions with their employers.

Immigration:

- Treat Pacific Islanders the same as Australians when they come to New Zealand to work. (New Zealand is a Pacific country and discriminating against a community which has done so much to build the New Zealand economy over several decades is unjust and indefensible)
- Mana would uphold the right to New Zealand citizenship for Samoans whose rights were stripped away by National (with Labour’s support) in 1982.

Building strong communities:

- Give every community the right of veto over new and existing pokie machines, alcohol outlets, fast-food outlets while the government heavily regulates the operation of loan sharks.

Education:

- Provide free breakfast and lunch for children in all schools (starting with decile 1 to 3 schools)

I’ve never sought parliamentary representation before but if I’m elected people will know I won’t be going to parliament to eat my lunch...

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