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Minor parties the ideas source under MMP

Hon Jim Anderton

Progressive Party leader

15 October 2008

Minor parties the ideas source under MMP

MMP enables smaller parties to put ideas on the agenda that wouldn't otherwise make it, Progressive Leader Jim Anderton said today.

He told the Christchurch Grey Power meeting that the Progressive Party, as a partner within the Labour-led government, had good success with its ideas - leading to the setting up of the KiwiBank, four weeks' paid annual leave, and paid parental leave.

"Labour is now putting Kiwibank on its billboards! They weren't so enthusiastic about it when I came up with the idea. The same with four weeks minimum annual leave and paid parental leave."

Jim Anderton said the Progressive Party had priorities for a new government.

"First, we want to see dental care made much more affordable. If you live on a fixed income and you need to see a dentist for a filling or an extraction - you can get a bill for four hundred dollars, right there! This is a huge hidden problem in New Zealand, and I want to see dental care brought into our physical health system.

"Second, we want to take care of vulnerable youth. I want our young people to be all they can be, and they won't realise their potential if they are getting their brains wasted on alcohol and drugs.

"So we say the drinking age should go back up to twenty. We say no relaxation in the drug laws.

"Third, we've just come through a long, cold winter. I see a lot of people who struggle with their power bills, and they're going up every year.

Power companies are making bigger profits every year. Most energy generating in New Zealand is owned by the public. If we spent just one quarter of their gross profits on a rebate, we could offer every household $200 off their winter power bill.

"MMP parties can achieve gains like this - just as we did with Kiwibank and four weeks minimum annual leave. If you bring me Matt Robson and others from the Progressive team this year, we can achieve more of these gains for senior New Zealanders."

Jim Anderton said every election was about change.

"This year's will be about change too. It's a question of a change to what.

The Opposition says, when you look closely at what they're saying, we should change back to the failed policies of the past. They want to go back to the asset sales of the nineties - that is why they say they will sell Kiwibank 'eventually'.

"Now look around the world at the global financial crisis. A crisis! Not a tough situation. Not a global slow down. But a crisis, in the world's financial system.

And if you look at the UK, you see Gordon Brown buying up banks. If you look around Europe, you see some of the world's largest economies buying shares in their own banks. If you look at the US, you see even George Bush nationalising banks. Now, George Bush is not a socialist. But he has come to realise the value of owning a publicly-owned bank. And all this in countries which already owned the majority of their own financial system.

"Now come back to New Zealand. When I said we needed our own kiwi bank, we owned one per cent of our financial system. The other 99 pr cent was foreign-owned.

Now 650-thousand New Zealanders belong to Kiwibank. It's ours. It's a huge success.

"And hasn't it been vindicated in the middle of this global financial meltdown? Yes it has.

"So how responsible is it for the National Party now to say 'we will sell Kiwibank eventually.'

"That's what's at stake at this election. That's the choice we face."


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