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Clark: Tax cuts 'grossly irresponsible'

2000 web siteLabour Leader Helen Clark said today that National’s promises of ever more tax cuts were grossly irresponsible when students are being threatened with huge fee increases, skills shortages are showing up in critical areas of the economy, and health services are under stress.

“At the same time as the Prime Minister announced her top priority for the future is tax cuts, Auckland University announced that its student fees for next year would, on average, be rising by over 10 per cent. Auckland medical students will now pay almost $10,000 a year in course fees.

“Moreover, this morning we have heard from the Manufacturers’ Federation that its businesses cannot recruit enough skilled workers for their factories because of the shortage of trained workers.

“What have a series of tax cuts over the past five years achieved? None have delivered the promised economic miracle or reduced unemployment, yet National is now promising more tax cuts at any price. This is the sort of economic and social irresponsibility that parties of the new right excel in.

“If New Zealand is to build a new economy, then core issues of education and training must be confronted. Our top priority has to be cutting the costs of education and training so that our young people get the skills they need in a modern economy.

“Labour will put an end to the slash-and-burn economic policies of the past nine years and focus on building a new economy based on an educated and skilled workforce.

“We will reduce the costs of tertiary education. Full-time and low income students will pay no interest on their student loans while studying. We will also work first to stabilise and over time to reduce the course costs of tertiary education.

“More apprentices need to be trained. We will introduce legislation for a Modern Apprenticeship Programme which will provide better opportunities for New Zealanders to gain comprehensive national qualifications through work-based training.

“Labour has a smart and active approach to government, with a range of programmes to assist businesses and help exporters compete on the world stage. Business will also benefit from our commitment to a highly trained workforce,” Helen Clark said.

Contact: David Lewis 025-409 492 or Mark Watts 025-822 734

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