Under the National government, things have swung too far out of balance in our country. A small group of ultra-wealthy people continue to get ahead while everyday New Zealanders are running to stand still, or are being left behind.
That deeply concerns me. No matter your background, everyone should have the opportunity to get ahead in life. This was one of the main reasons I stood for Parliament – I’m concerned about the growing gap between rich and poor. Unfortunately, I’ve watched that gap continue to widen under the current government.
National announced a suite of tax changes earlier this year. It was no surprise that these changes benefited those at the top and tipped the balance further in their favour. People like my Parliamentary colleagues and me will get an extra $1000 a year. Those on the minimum wage will receive much less. That shows the deep unfairness of these measures – it fails to help those who need it most.
I’m proud that Labour voted against those changes. Like most Kiwis, we think that it’s not time for tax cuts – we need to invest in strong public services like health and education.
Just a week ago, Andrew Little announced Labour's families plan that boosts the incomes of families with kids and those in need. We will boost Working for Families payments, introduce Best Start payments for families with babies and toddlers, and Winter Energy Payments for retirees and people on benefits.
Labour's carefully targeted plan delivers a bigger boost to 70% of families with kids than National's tax cuts, while costing less. This means there will be more to spend on addressing the social deficits that have built up in housing, health and education after nine years of National’s neglect.
For Labour, our priority will always be people. This means making sure that everyone has access to the opportunities and services required for a decent life.
We are focused on the future. Choosing to tackle the housing crisis and get serious about climate change are priorities I’ve written about recently in Critic. Choosing to provide affordable access to high quality medical care means everyone is supported to live healthy lives and make their best contribution. Choosing to prioritise three years’ post-secondary free education acknowledges that things are changing, and that all people will need opportunities for advanced education in a fast-changing world.
This election is about priorities. National's election bribe is not a priority for New Zealanders. We need to deal with inequality, tackle climate change, the housing crisis, and under-funding of services like health and education. This is what Labour’s fresh approach will deliver.