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Budgets for fairness, opportunity and security

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Labour deputy Leader Michael Cullen today released Labour's pre-election fiscal update saying it was the budgetary framework for fairness, opportunity and security.

"Labour's emphasis is on responsible budgets designed for ordinary New Zealand families. We aim to improve life for the mums and dads who struggle to give a good start and opportunities to their children and for the superannuitants who have borne the brunt of nine long years of National government.

"National and Act want tax cuts for the wealthy. We want a better standard of living for the great majority," Dr Cullen said.

"National is now promising tax cuts, around two thirds of which will go to the top 5 percent of taxpayers and to predominantly foreign-owned corporates.

"By rejecting those and asking the top 5 percent to pay a little more, Labour will be able to:

· Restore the level of the married rate for the pension to 65 percent of the average, ordinary time weekly wage on April 1 next year.
· Introduce a fairer student loans scheme that abolishes the piling up of interest while people are still students.
· Cut waiting times for surgery.
· Invest in business development and export growth.
· Begin the creation of a long-term scheme to fund New Zealand Superannuation.
· Cut the cost of housing for low income families.
· Provide better funding to Plunket and the early childhood support programmes.
· Improve the quality of education at all levels.

"It really is a matter of fairness. The gains from the economic changes of the last 15 years have gone overwhelmingly to the best off while ordinary families have seen the gaps widen.

"In nine years of National Government, there have been three years in which the pension has been frozen. Per student spending in education has continued to fall while a whole range of social services for ordinary families have been stripped away or become more expensive.

"Labour will start turning that around. We need to offer ordinary Kiwi families something better than the chance to buy shares in assets they already own.

"We will offer real opportunity and security and we will do that in a fiscally responsible way. Our budgets, unlike Act's, do not depend on finding someone to pay $1200 million more for TVNZ than it is worth.

"Nor are they threatened by Prime Ministerial fiscal slips like National's. They are solidly based and thoroughly costed," Dr Cullen said.

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