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Liam Butler interviews Hon David Cunliffe

Liam Butler interviews Hon David Cunliffe, Labour party Leader.

29 July 2014

Liam Butler

Question: How can New Zealand better value its older people?

Hon David Cunliffe:

With older Kiwis comprising a growing proportion of New Zealand's population we all need to recognise the significant contribution they make to society - not only as taxpayers and consumers, but as employers, paid workers and volunteers.

Supporting older New Zealanders to not only participate in the workforce if they choose to, but to also enjoy their well-earned retirement in good health is a priority for Labour.

We know cost of living pressures and concerns around health care don't just stop when your kids leave home. Many of us then find ourselves caring for our own parents, and that brings its own concerns.

Labour realises the important role the elderly play in New Zealand society, and recognise the unique concerns the elderly population have in New Zealand. Three of the major areas we are aiming to target are to help the elderly are:

1) Cost of living

2) Quality health services

3) Security in retirement

Firstly, Labour recognises the stress older Kiwis are under when it comes to paying the weekly and monthly bills. We have a strong economic policy which will give the Reserve Bank new tools and broader mandate to keep inflation at bay. And we are underlying our commitment to compulsory KiwiSaver so all employed New Zealanders can save for a nest egg in retirement.

In addition, through our NZ Power policy we will bring down power prices, and through our KiwiAssure policy we will address the costs of insurance.

We are committed to rebuilding the economy and bringing down costs so that New Zealanders are able to retire with dignity and not have to worry about how they will pay their next bill.

Secondly, Labour recognises the health budget in New Zealand hasn't been keeping up with the needs of older people. This is why we will ensure the health and education budgets keep up with rising costs and the growing population by setting aside a billion dollars of new spending every year, in addition to any new health spending announcements which will ensure health services have the funding they require an so that every New Zealander can access quality affordable healthcare.

Labour is committed to quality Aged Care. We will work collaboratively with providers, unions, and representatives of older people to improve wages for caregivers, to set agreed standards for care and to make home based care work more effectively for the people receiving care. There will be an agreed plan with agreed timelines for reaching our targets.

Thirdly, we have listened to those in the sector and have committed to establishing an Aged Care Commissioner tasked as a watchdog for the rights of older New Zealanders. As New Zealand's population ages we need to ensure that there is a strong voice able to draw attention to problems and provide recommendations for solutions. And this is what Labour will deliver through the establishment of an Aged Care Commissioner.

In addition, we will also commit to bringing the Minister for Senior Citizens back into cabinet as part of our push to ensure that the issues and needs of older New Zealanders have a dedicated voice within government.

Labour recognises the importance of the elderly in New Zealand and we are committed to ensuring that New Zealand can sustain decent standards of living for older New Zealanders



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