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PM's Statement on the 2005 General Election

MONDAY 25 JULY 2005

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Prime Ministerial Statement on the
2005 General Election


3.45pm
Monday 25 July 2005
At today’s press conference I am announcing the date of the general election and the timetable of events which will unfold from the dissolution of Parliament.

This year’s election is about leadership, credibility, and values.

It’s about who can be trusted to run a strong economy, create jobs, lift living standards, and invest back into the basics of health, education, services for older citizens and families, infrastructure, and law and order.

It’s about who has credible policies to deliver those results for the future, and who will keep their word on the promises they make to the people of New Zealand.

It’s about who can be trusted to stand up for New Zealand and for the values and principles which New Zealanders hold dear at home and abroad.

Labour goes into this election with a strong record of achievement.
- The economy has grown strongly
- Unemployment has halved in six years
- The number of jobs in the economy is up by more than a quarter of a million
- The numbers of people living on benefits have been slashed, along with the numbers in poverty
- Health and education spending has risen sharply, providing more and better services
- Crime is at its lowest level in more than two decades, and police numbers are already up by 1100, with another 265 being funded in this year’s budget.
- Funding for land transport is up eighty per cent over 1999 levels, without even counting the extra half billion dollar package announced last month, and extra regional packages like that announced for Wellington

These areas are core business for the Labour-led government.

Our vision is for New Zealand to be the country of choice to live in because it is prosperous, fair, inclusive, safe, clean and green, has a great lifestyle, and offers opportunity and security for all. We are proud of New Zealand, its achievements, and its unique national identity and heritage which draw on the strengths of all our peoples.

Given the privilege of being elected for a third term, Labour’s commitment is to keep building New Zealand’s economic strength, key services, and infrastructure, and to boost family living standards and overall well being.

Our government is an experienced one. Between us, Michael Cullen and I offer leadership based on 48 years of parliamentary experience, in contrast to our opponents’ six years. Leading a government is not a game for amateurs. Credibility, experience, and a proven ability to get results for New Zealanders, as our government has, do speak volumes.

Our objective is to take New Zealand ahead by continuing stable, predictable, reliable, strong, and progressive government based on good working relationships with support parties in Parliament. Labour has delivered that over two terms in office, and I know we can deliver it for a third.

This election we are again offering a pledge card outlining the key commitments we are making to New Zealanders. We have had a pledge card in each of the last two elections and every one of those commitments has been implemented.

Over our two terms in office we have established a reputation for keeping our word. We expect to be held accountable for our promises, and we don’t overpromise. When I sign the pledge card, I sign up to deliver on those commitments. This stands in stark contrast to the years of broken promises from previous governments, and the wild promises being made by National now which could only lead to heartbreak for those misled by them.

Over the coming weeks we will be announcing more new policy, goals, and targets across key areas, including in health, education, and law and order. We’ve already announced major new policy to help young people buy their first homes, through the KiwiSaver scheme.

We are proud of what we have achieved in our first two terms, but we know there is much more to do to lift living standards for all our families. Our country is on the way up, and the journey must continue.

This election will also be about who can be trusted to stand up for New Zealand.

Two decades ago New Zealand made itself nuclear free. As long as Labour governs, that policy won’t be gone by lunchtime or by any other time. We believe in it – and it won’t be traded away.

Our opponents refuse to commit to the nuclear free policy. Their aim is to break down New Zealanders’ resolve to be nuclear free. This is shameful – and it is a defining issue for this election.

And so is the issue of combat troops in Iraq.

Our government took a principled decision not to support a war which was wrong. National would have committed combat troops, and it would do so now given the chance.

This is not just an historical issue. A conservative government across the Tasman sent combat troops to Iraq recently. We know what National would do if asked – at great cost to New Zealanders.

Our government has a greater vision for New Zealand as a country committed to peace building and nuclear disarmament, and as a voice of moderation in a troubled world. That is what drives our independent foreign policy, and our policies for inclusion and fairness at home.

The choice before New Zealanders this election is stark:
- It’s between the Labour Government with our strong record of achievement and leadership, and an inexperienced opposition making wild promises which don’t add up.
- It’s between the Labour Government committed to strong public health and education systems, and an opposition whose leader wants more private provision in both areas.
- It’s between the Labour Government with its new policies to support young people buying their first home, and an opposition whose leader says they’re better off renting.
- It’s between the Labour Government which has succeeded in reducing child poverty, and an opposition whose leader says of child poverty that “these things go up and down” and he can’t promise anything in this area.
- It’s between the Labour Government which says 65 is the right age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation, and an opposition whose leader says the age will have to go up
- It’s between the Labour Government which by next year will have eliminated the government’s net debt, and an opposition which wants to borrow for tax cuts and would drive mortgage interest rates up for every household and business.
- It’s between the Labour Government which has put an end to the programme of state asset sales and has bought back the rail track and most shares in our national airline, and an opposition with an agenda of privatisation of state assets.
- It’s between the Labour Government which will defend and promote New Zealand’s independent and principled foreign policy, and an opposition which would have it gone by lunchtime.

In my judgement few New Zealanders are looking for radical policy change this election. Yet radical policy change is what is on offer from the opposition this election.

This is a campaign which I am entering full of optimism. Our first two terms have made a big difference for the better for New Zealanders. A return to the days of asset sales, big borrowing, spending cuts, growing poverty, and the deeply divided society of the 1990s which National stands for would take New Zealand backwards, not forward.

I am confident that New Zealanders want to move forward, together, and that they share both my optimism about what this country can be and pride in what we are already achieving. As a nation, we can hold our heads high, celebrate all our successes in so many fields, and be proud of all the peoples who have contributed to making our small country one of the most dynamic, innovative, and creative on earth.

Today I have advised the Governor General to dissolve Parliament on Thursday 11 August.

Writ day will follow on 17 August, Nomination day on 23 August and the election will be held on 17 September.

ENDS

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