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Clark: Labour gives fresh start on jobs, education

2000 web siteA strong mandate for Labour on Saturday will enable a fresh start to be made on education and jobs, Labour Leader Helen Clark said today.

Helen Clark is campaigning in Auckland today, visiting Vita Ltd in Avondale and Southern Cross school in Mangere. She also addresses an Auckland regional forum.

“While National’s campaign is based almost exclusively on fears and smears, Labour offers a positive programme of action which will swing into action as soon as we are elected to government.

“Education and jobs are at the centre of this programme. Both are critical to New Zealand’s future prosperity, and in both areas National has failed New Zealanders badly.

“Labour will move swiftly to set up a new business growth agency to implement Labour’s policies to grow the economy. We will back our all-important export sector to do better, with initiatives such as a new export credit guarantee scheme.

“Workers will get a fairer deal under Labour too. The iniquitous Employment Contracts Act will be replaced. Labour will also review the minimum wage, and legislate to ensure the adult minimum rate covers all those aged 18 and over.

“Support from the business sector for Labour’s plans for the economy is growing. As a recent business survey conducted by the New Zealand Herald showed, the overwhelming majority of businesspeople have not bought into National’s nasty scaremongering campaign over Labour’s intentions to replace the ECA.

“Another Herald poll, published today, shows s sharp climb in support for Labour’s economic vision, while doubts within the business sector about National’s economic policies are growing.

“Labour will also repair the damage Mrs Shipley’s government has inflicted on the education sector.

“Labour’s commitment over more than 80 years has been to build and maintain a strong public school system. That remains our commitment today,” Helen Clark said.

“Labour wants to rebuild faith in community schools and to give children a right of access to their local school.

“Labour does not believe that market concepts are appropriate for the public education system. Under markets, there are winners and losers. Alas, in the end, the losers are the children whose interests are not served by a system which allows schools to become and remain ‘losers’.

“Bulk funding has been an extraordinary divisive issue for schools communities. Under the Labour-led government it will go. The money allocated to induce schools into bulk funding will be redistributed across all schools on a fair basis.

“A stronger teacher education system, both pre-service and in-service, is also needed. Labour will review the shape and quality of teacher education provision, and the new professionally-led Education Council will have a major role to play in that.

“And Labour will take responsibility for better provision of professional development for teachers already working in schools.

“Our policy also includes initiatives to encourage experienced and qualified staff into hard-to-staff schools.

“Only a clear mandate for Labour on Saturday can deliver a fresh start on jobs and education,” Helen Clark said.

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

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