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Key Notes No.34: Valuing Families

24 July 2008

VALUING FAMILIES

Supporting parents and families is hugely important. It's one of National's core principles and it's something I'm absolutely committed to. That's why, in June, I outlined how National will help get kids back into sports at school. And that's why, in the past few weeks, we've launched policies to improve the quality and choice of early childhood education and to help families make the most of our great outdoors.

In the months ahead, you'll see more policies from National that focus on parents and families and help build opportunities for children from all backgrounds.

Early Childhood Care and Education

National will keep the 20 hours early childhood education (ECE) scheme for 3 and 4-year-olds. We'll also retain existing subsidies and fee controls. Thousands of families are now using the scheme and we don't want to cause them financial uncertainty.

We are, however, determined to improve the quality and choice of early childhood education. Parents know what's best for their families and what their preschoolers need to get a good start in life. National trusts parents to make the right decisions for their children and their futures.

National will make the 20 Hours ECE scheme more flexible by:
• Removing the six-hours-a-day limit.
• Including playcentres and kohanga reo in the scheme.
• Extending 20 Hours ECE to 5-year-olds.
• Investigating more frequent payment methods.

We will also improve staff ratios, tackle the early childhood teacher shortage, cut bureaucracy, and boost participation rates in ECE. For more details, see our policy summary here.

Encouraging Outdoor Recreation

Making the most of the great outdoors is part of our heritage. National wants to make sure all Kiwi families have the chance to camp, hunt, fish, tramp, picnic, and make the most of New Zealand's wild and beautiful places.

We will create new affordable campsites for families where there is demand. We will change the focus of conservation boards so they better reflect a wide range of recreation interests. And we'll achieve public access to streams, lakes, and rivers through negotiated agreements with landowners.

We're also determined to give hunters more say in the management of game animals, and protect the right of every Kiwi family to go fishing and catch a meal of seafood without a licence. Click here to see our Outdoor Recreation policy summary.

A GLOBALLY-COMPETITIVE ECONOMY

National wants to get our economy growing again. To do that, we've got to get the right incentives into our tax system through an ongoing programme of tax cuts. We've got to boost investment in our overstretched infrastructure. And we've got to relentlessly focus on lifting education standards. We've also got to cut bureaucracy and red tape, and give people more say in making decisions that best suit their needs, as well as bringing discipline to government spending so taxpayers get better value for their money.

Over the past few weeks, we've released several policies that follow through on these ideas.

Employment and Workplace Relations

National believes that employment law should do four things:
- Treat employees and employers fairly
- Expand opportunities for those having difficulty getting work
- Increase flexibility
- Let businesses grow

That's why we want to introduce a 90-day trial period for new employees in businesses with fewer than 20 staff. This trial period will be by agreement between the employer and the employee. It will give those having difficulty getting work - such as young inexperienced jobseekers or new immigrants - a better chance at getting a job.

For more details on our proposed 90-day trial period, as well as our policies on resolving employment disputes, annual leave, and the right of workers to bargain collectively without joining a union, see our policy summary here

ACC

National supports a comprehensive, 24/7, no-fault accident insurance scheme that delivers certainty of coverage for all New Zealanders, but we think the existing scheme, provided through a single state insurer, can be improved.

We want a more flexible scheme that rewards employers with good workplace safety records, penalises those with poor records, and encourages employers to buy more than the basic cover. To achieve this, we support the introduction of competition and choice to the ACC Work Account (covering employees and the self-employed at work).

We believe this will result in safer workplaces and a more efficient and effective accident compensation system that benefits all New Zealanders. Read more about our policy here.

Other policy releases

We have recently released our Broadcasting, and our Arts, Culture & Heritage policies, as well. These can both be found on our website - click here for those and other policy releases .

John Key MP
Leader of the National Party

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ENDS

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