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Pacific Vote: Pacific people are Working People

Tonga Advisory Council

4 November 2008 MEDIA RELEASE

Pacific Vote: Pacific people are Working People

In response to the recent public declarations by Inga Tuigamala and Michael Jones, the Tongan Advisory Council wishes to remind Pacific voters that the World Bank ranked New Zealand, alongside Singapore, as one of the most business friendly countries in the world. Initiatives such as the Pacific Chamber of Commerce, the Pacific Business Trust show Labour’s commitment to increasing self-employment among Pacific peoples.

Tongan Advisory Council Chair, Mr Melino Maka says, “When Pacific leaders get up and make statements about who to vote for and what will benefit Pacific families, I think we need to look at seriously at where the bulk of our people are positioned. Pacific people are working people. If the World Bank ranks New Zealand as the most business friendly country next to Singapore in the world, I tend to believe them. Business-friendly is not the issue.

With all due respect to Inga and Michael, we are all proud of their achievements, but more than eighty percent of our people are workers. We should choose a Government that meets the interests and needs of our people. There are many things the Government has done that have made a real difference in our everyday lives. The four weeks annual leave for all (not just the bosses or those on high incomes), free doctors visits for under sixes, the 20 free hours of childcare, Kiwi Saver, Working for Families, state housing prices cut from market rent to a quarter of a family’s income. We need to think about the many things that have been done in the best interests of workers.

I understand that Christian values are being put forward as a way of swaying Pacific voters towards a conservative Government. I would question what affect or influence any Government realistically has on a Christian’s personal walk with God. If we are looking to the Beehive to enhance our spiritual faith then we may be looking in the wrong places.

In a five year period we’ve seen the median annual income for Pacific peoples increase by $5,700 over a five year period. We have seen the unemployment rate for Pacific peoples drop to from 12300 in 1999 to 1401 in June 2008. These are the kind of changes that good governance is in a position to influence. These sorts of results benefit those who most need it. We encourage Pacific people to get out and vote this weekend and to make it count.


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