National’s primary teacher policy

The new policy announcement made by Simon Bridges at National’s conference in the weekend seems a strange choice – a promise to increase the number of primary school teachers and lower class sizes.

Typically National really struggles with teacher related policies. It is fairly well known that Labour works very closely with teacher unions, and the unions don’t like working with National.

I guess it signifies a change in direction for national under Bridges’ leadership. Press release (edited):


National commits to more primary teachers

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has announced National’s commitment to increasing the number of primary teachers to reduce class sizes and give kids more teacher time.

“With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into,” Mr Bridges said at the National Party’s annual conference in Auckland today.

“There is one thing every child needs to help them achieve their potential, from the one that struggles to sit still and follow instructions to the bright child that wants to be challenged to the gifted child that doesn’t know how to channel their talent.

“And that’s attention from one of New Zealand’s world class teachers who can cater to the needs of each child, and spend more time with each of them.

“More teachers means more attention for our kids at a stage of life when they need it most.

“To achieve their potential and reach their dreams our kids need less Facebook and more face time with teachers.

“National is committed to delivering that by putting more teachers in schools to ensure smaller class sizes for our children.

“We’re also committed to attracting more teachers and ensuring they are highly respected professionals in our communities. Part of that is pay, and it’s also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids.

Mr Bridges said National would spend the next two years working with teachers, parents and communities on the details of the policy, along with the others it will take to the electorate in 2020.

“This year is about listening to our communities, next year about getting feedback on the ideas we put forward and 2020 about delivering the concrete plans that show New Zealanders we are ready to lead.

“We will make every day count. National will bring strong leadership, the best ideas and the ability to make a difference. I’m backing New Zealanders and I’m starting with our children.”


Labour used to propose reducing class sizes (2014 campaign) and criticised National on class sizes, but I can’t find anything specifically in their education manifesto on this.

Chris Hipkins two years ago (July 2016): Bigger class sizes on the way under National

Hekia Parata’s refusal to rule out bigger class sizes as a result of her new bulk funding regime speaks volumes about the real agenda behind her proposed changes, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Hekia Parata has proposed that schools should have the ‘flexibility’ to spend money that currently goes towards teaching salaries on other expenses. That can only result in bigger class sizes, a reduction in the number of courses on offer, or both.

“I’m not surprised that Hekia Parata has refused to rule out bigger class sizes. In Western Australia, where she has drawn inspiration for her new model from, at least the Minister for Education was honest enough to admit class sizes going up was a likely consequence of bulk funding.

NZH a year ago (July 2017): Modern classrooms in all schools by 2030: Labour’s election pledge

Ahead of the 2014 election Labour focused on reducing class sizes to one teacher to 26 students at primary and a maximum average class size of 23 at secondary schools. Those specific goals have been dropped.

Hipkins told the Herald the 2014 policy to cut class sizes would have been funded by scrapping National’s flagship education policy, Investing in Educational Success (IES).

“A lot of money is committed now. It remains a goal to reduce class sizes and we will have more to say on that in due course.”

In due course hasn’t arrived yet. National seem to have taken over a Labour policy.

This looks a bit like more Tweedlenats and Tweedlelabour.

School donations another delayed promise

A Labour promise to pay schools extra so parent donations aren’t required has had an evolving target, from “in our first budget” to “three Budgets on which to deliver on them”.

Below the Beltway:

Education Minister Chris Hipkins – After promising repeatedly to offer parents relief from school donations in the Budget, Hipkins insists its omission is not a broken promise but a delayed one.

Labour policy: Schooling

  • Ensure that schooling is genuinely free by offering an extra $150 per student to state and state integrated schools that don’t ask parents for donations

Labour: Education Manifesto

  • Labour will provide all State and State Integrated schools that opt-in an additional $150 per student per year in exchange for their agreement not to ask for parental donations

July 2017: Labour taking action on school ‘donations’

Labour will end so-called voluntary school donations for the majority of parents across the country under its $4 billion plan to revitalise the education sector, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. James talks with Labour education spokesperson Chris Hipkins on this.

James: So the school will get this immediately, as soon as you become Government the schools will get this extra $150 per child?

Hipkins: Ah look it might have to be, obviously we’ve got to pass a budget first, so it probably won’t be the beginning of next year, it’s probably be the beginning of the following year but we’ll be doing it as quickly as we can.

James: How long does it take to sort that out, a year?

Hipkins: Well the government budget’s normally done in May, so you’ve got to appropriate the money first.

James: Haven’t you done the figures already?

Hipkins: Yep. The money, we’ve certainly done the figures but we’ve actually got to win the election and get into Government first, and then it takes a wee while to pass an additional budget. The budget for next year has been already been set by Mr English and Mr Joyce.

Almost as soon as they got into Government,26 October 2017: ‘We’ve got to fund schools fairly’ – Labour determined to take the axe to ‘voluntary’ school donations:

Incoming Education Minister Chris Hipkins said a new Labour initiative would be introduced in the 2018 budget that would see some schools given extra government funding instead of asking parents for a donation.

Hillary Barry: End of school donations, how are you going to ensure that those are gone?

Chris Hipkins: Well that’ll be in our first budget. We’ll be making sure that school funding is enough to deliver the curriculum so that schools don’t have to rely on the ability of parents to pay, because that’s creating real unfairness…

In November: Labour’s $150 per student per year promise ‘over and above current funding’, minister says

New Minister of Education Chris Hipkins…

The new Government would commit an extra $150 per pupil per year to any schools that agreed not to ask for donations, and that money would be “over and above their current funding”, he said.

Hipkins was confident many schools would prefer the new approach to asking parents to “dig ever deeper into their own pockets”.

“I know parents and schools will be keen for this change to be made as soon as possible and work is getting under way,” he said.

It had already softened to “as soon as possible”.

A month later Labour announced their first budget, a mini-budget that included major new spending like delivering on the free-fee tertiary policy. This was their first budget they chose not to address the school donation policy then.

In February this year Schools split on Government’s plan to overhaul donation system

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the policy would be considered for Budget 2018.  “No-one should be denied an opportunity to realise their potential through education because of financial barriers,” he said.

“As it is Budget sensitive I can’t comment further at this point.”

By then it was “would be considered”.

But it was absent from the budget announced this month (May).

In Parliament on Wednesday Nikki Kaye probed Hipkins:

7. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Minister of Education: Does he stand by all his promises in education; if so, does he stand by his statement in February 2018 regarding ending school donations, “As it is Budget sensitive I can’t comment further at this point”?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Yes, and yes.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Why did he say, in January, to the Nelson Mail that a school donations proposal was working its way through Cabinet and “This restricts me from making any comment further at this stage.”, and when did that schools donations Cabinet paper go through?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Because it was working its way through the process. It was called the Budget process.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Will he reimburse schools and parents who are contacting electorate offices saying they relied on his broken promise to end school donations in the first Budget, and how will they find funding from somewhere else?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The Government has been very clear that we have three Budgets in which to deliver the commitments we made in the Speech from the Throne. We have, thus far, delivered one of the three Budgets.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Will he promise that funding will be provided in Budget 2019 to end school donations?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: All of the commitments in the Speech from the Throne are subject to further Budget consideration if they weren’t funded in this year’s Budget. There are two further Budgets that the Government will be delivering over this term of Government.

Hon Nikki Kaye: How does he justify breaking his explicit promise to parents to scrap the school donations in his first Budget when his Government is budgeting a surplus of $3.1 billion, the tax take is up by $1 billion, and the Government can afford to give millions to wealthy students, Swedish diplomats—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order!

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: To be clear, the Government was never going to be able to deliver all of the commitments we made in our first Budget, and we’ve always been very clear that we weren’t going to be able to deliver those things in our first Budget. That’s why we have a three-year term, and three Budgets on which to deliver on them.

So it’s been a moving target:

July 2017: “Probably be the beginning of the following year” (2019)

October 2017: “Well that’ll be in our first budget” (not clear whether mini-budget in 2017 or full budget in 2018)

November 2017: “…this change to be made as soon as possible…”

February 2018: “would be considered for Budget 2018”

May 2018: “three Budgets on which to deliver on them”

If Labour gets back into Government in 2020 Hipkins will have another three budgets to deliver on his promise, sort of.

 

Greens want to dump referendums so they can force separate Māori wards

Several local bodies have failed in their attempts to impose Māori wards on their constituencies, with voters initiating petitions forcing referendums that subsequently voted strongly against separate democratic privileges – see Māori wards and democracy.

Undeterred by determination through the current democratic process, Green co-leader Marama Davidson is promoting “a movement”  for  “Māori wards right across the country”.

NewstalkZB: Green Party not giving up on Maori wards

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is refusing to give up the fight to create separate Maori wards, after Whakatane and Palmerston North both voted against the wards in binding referendums.

Davidson says it’s wrong for the majority to be setting the rules for minorities.

“Passing my law, which would have removed that referendum step and which would leave the decision in the hands of the elected councillors, is what is sorely needed.”

She has a law to take a means of democratic decision making out of the hands of voters.

Last year: Greens introduce Bill to make local wards process fair

The Green Party has today entered a Member’s Bill into the ballot that would make local government representation more equitable by ensuring that the establishment of both Māori and general wards on district and regional councils follows the same legal process.

“I’m really excited to be launching my new Member’s Bill today, which will ensure that the process for establishing Māori wards at a local government level is equitable and fair, and honours our commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” said Green Party Māori development spokesperson Marama Davidson.

Green Farm: ‘All votes are equal…but some vote should be more equal than others’.

“This unfair double standard in our electoral law works to limit Māori representation at local government level throughout the country.

Māori currently have the same opportunities for representation as everyone else. Davidson wants them to have separated representation. Davidson is promoting one standard for Māori the is different for the standard for everyone else.

Why just Māori wards? Why not women’s wards, LBGT wards, immigrant group wards, and white male wards?

“Removing this discriminatory provision is the right thing to do.

With a more discriminatory, less democratic provision?

“The Green Party has a proud history of standing up to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This is a continuation of our work as the political leaders on advancing kaupapa Māori and honouring Te Tiriti,” Ms Davidson said.

By promoting separatist local body democracy. I’m not aware of Te Tiriti o Waitangi stipulating separate democratic rights. There are valid historical reasons for the establishment of the national Māori electorates, and there is no strong indications that voters want that changed – but there are strong indications in New Plymouth, Manawatu, Kaikoura and Whakatane that separate wards are not wanted.

Having lost out in the democratic process Davidson wants the rules changed so she can have what she wants. This is alarming from a party leader.

From the Green’s Open Government and Democracy Policy:

Vision

  • We have a proportional electoral system that is transparent and fair.

This refers to ‘a proportional electoral system’, not dual systems. Fair for all, or ‘more fair’ for some?

Key Principles

1. Key decisions on the shape of the nation’s electoral system belong to the people, not political parties.

And not councils. But Davidson wants this principle overturned so councils can ignore their constituents.

2. The votes of all electors are of equal weight in influencing election results.

Except Davidson wants added weight for a select minority.

6. The electoral system should encourage close links and accountability between individual MPs and their constituents or constituencies.

8. Active democratic processes require more than periodic elections and stronger mechanisms are needed for the ongoing engagement of informed citizens in the development and enactment of key national and local policies.

But Davidson wants to remove the right of local body voters to petition for referendums so they can have their say.

A. Changing the existing system

The Green Party will only consider supporting changes to the Electoral Act if:

1. The only effect of the change is to grant the right to vote to some group of citizens and permanent residents of Aotearoa New Zealand, who were previously ineligible to vote; or
2. The changes are adjustments to the existing electoral system that have been recommended by an independent commission, and that are consistent with our Key Principles.

Separate Māori wards are excluded by point 1. because Māori are already eligible to vote.

I’m not aware of any independent commission recommending Māori wards.

Māori wards are not consistent with Green Party Key Principles, but who needs to bother about principles when a party leader wants to override the current democratic systems?

Another Green democracy ‘vision’:

  • We are actively engaged in our democracy and are able to meaningfully participate in government decision-making.

That’s ok as an ideal, but you can’t make people actively engage in our democracy. Local body referendum turnouts were all close to 40%.

And Davidson wants to remove a petition/referendum means of meaningful participation because she disagrees with the democratic outcome.

Perhaps Davidson should try some meaningful participation and actively engage with Māori non-voters, and find out what would encourage them to engage and vote. That would be much better than trying to change the democratic rules when you don’t get the results you want.

It would be great if more Māori voted. It would also be great if more Māori  candidates stood, and if more Māori candidates were good enough to get voted on to local body governments.

B. Changing to a new system

The Green Party will consider supporting changing to a new electoral system only if:

1. The new electoral system is approved by a free and fair referendum of all people in Aotearoa New Zealand eligible to vote under the existing laws. The referendum should have the following characteristics:
a) The referendum process is determined by an independent commission not by members of parliament

Davidson wants to do the opposite.

Great to get more Māori  voting and standing and elected. But terrible for a party leader to try to change the rules to get what she wants.

Not only is Davidson promoting double democratic standards, she is promoting very different democratic standards to he party principles and policies.

Labour slow to restore Canterbury democracy

After slamming the last Government’s sacking of the Canterbury regional council ECan, and of promising to quickly restore democracy, Labour is now in no hurry to act.

Christchurch Labour MP Megan Woods in 2016: ECan legislation an affront to democracy

The Government’s ECan Legislation is an affront to Cantabrians and continues to deny them a democratically elected regional council, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods.

“There is simply no logical, rational or compelling case for a system of regional government in Canterbury that is anti-democratic and radically different from other parts of the country.

“This is not the return to democracy we were promised. This is a continuation of government control.

“It has been six years since the Government sacked the regional council. It is time to put regional governance back where it belongs. That regional governnment has to be in the hands of Cantabrians. There is no justification for controlling Canterbury through appointments made in Wellington.

“I have a Private Members Bill in the ballot to return to a fully elected council at this year’s elections. That Bill stays in the ballot because Labour backs Cantabrians to run their own region,” says Megan Woods.

Labour’s policy on Canterbury (August 2017): Unlocking Potential – Labour’s Plan for Canterbury

Our plan has eight crucial components, each demonstrating Labour’s commitment to get the region moving – and thriving.

Labour will:

  • Restore full democracy to Environment Canterbury

Stuff (November 2017): ECan elections unlikely before 2019

A return to democracy at Environment Canterbury (ECan) appears unlikely before 2019, despite Labour’s long-standing objection to the status quo.

The last Government removed democratically-elected councillors in 2009 and replaced them with seven commissioners the following year.

One of the sacked councillors, Eugenie Sage, is now Minister of Conservation.

Despite promises by former Environment Minister Nick Smith to restore democracy in 2013, it was pushed to 2016. A full return to democracy was delayed again until 2019 – half the current council is elected and half appointed.

During the election campaign, Labour said full elections would be restored “as soon as possible,” but it is understood that is unlikely to happen before 2019, when elections were expected anyway.

Newsroom (today): Labour’s big miss in Canterbury

The Labour-led Government has failed a crucial test in Canterbury.

Despite making an election issue out of a return to full democracy at Canterbury’s regional council, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has confirmed to Newsroom it will follow the last Government’s timetable of waiting until next year’s scheduled local body elections.

That’s little payback for a surge of support for Labour in Christchurch at last year’s election. The decision not to call early elections will disappoint many – including Mahuta’s ministerial colleague Eugenie Sage, who was one of 14 councillors sacked by the National-led Government in 2010, mainly over claims it was mismanaging water.

Labour’s go-slow on Canterbury democracy even leaves it open to a swipe from ex-Environment Minister Nick Smith, who made the National-led Government’s decision, jointly with then Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, to sack councillors at Environment Canterbury (ECan).

Smith, a fading flower in National, says Labour “screamed from the rooftops” in opposition and if it believed the strength of its rhetoric it would have moved to restore a fully elected council. “I think they know, as I did, that a sensible transition through this term of council and full elections in 2019 is actually the right thing for Canterbury.”

After this length of time without an elected regional council it makes sense to restore a democratic body during the Local Body elections next year, but Labour have failed to fulfil their promise. At least they haven’t set up an inquiry on this.

Cannabis referendum could disappoint

One of the policy wins for the Greens is a referendum on personal use of cannabis.

A referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis by 2020. Funding for drug and alcohol addiction services will be increased.

The ‘referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis by 2020’ is both good and bad news.

Cannabis laws and enforcement of them are hopeless, and long overdue for being radically reformed, so it is good to see tangible progress on this.

But I’m really quite disappointed by this.

Why do we need a referendum apart from appeasing NZ First? Polls have consistently shown public support for cannabis law reform.

A referendum in 2020 is likely to mean that legislation wouldn’t go through Parliament until 2021 at the earliest, and if National get back in they are unlikely to put any priority on it. This means any change could be four or five years away.

A simple referendum could be hobbled or watered down by actual legislation if it’s not specific enough.

Perhaps legislation could be done in advance of the referendum so we know what we are voting on. Then the referendum could be to approve of or reject the legislation. But that still means at least a 3 year wait.

I won’t get too annoyed yet, before details are available, but I have some concerns.


Note that this addresses personal use of cannabis as opposed to medicinal use – in Labour’s Taking action in our first 100 days:

  • Introduce legislation to make medicinal cannabis available for people with terminal illnesses or in chronic pain

Ardern has not been specific but has said that most of their ‘first 100 days’ pledges remain intact.


UPDATE – there could be even more disappointment

James Shaw just said in an interview on The Nation that it hasn’t been decided yet whether the referendum will be binding or not.

So it could be in 3 years, and toothless.

 

How solid are campaign policies and pledges?

A lot of attention is given to policies and pledges and promises and hints during election campaigns. Parties argue for their own ‘if we are in Government’ pitches and examine and criticise opposing parties’ promises.

But how much weight should we put on campaign statements? The way MMP works, especially when there is a balance of power play like now, parties have to compromise, they have to give up some of their own policies and accept others.

Already we have seen that Peters appears to back off Maori seat referendum pledge.

If he stood by that pledge it would rule out governing with Labour (or so Labour have said before negotiations begin) so what would reduce his bargaining power substantially.

The way our MMP works all policies are negotiable after the election.

The cynical amongst us might think that some of the ‘promises’ are made to be broken by a junior party accommodation.

Greens knew that would have to have Labour to get into Government, so would have to give up some of their own policies and accept some of Labour’s.

Even though Labour and Greens had a Memorandum of Understanding to present a combined bid for government a core part of that agreement was to be able to have different policies. Even if Labour+Greens had been able to form a government on their own neither would be able to fulfil all their promises.

Peters has already made an adjustment, and with only 7-7.5% of the total vote will have to accept that many of the NZ First policies won’t (or shouldn’t) hold sway no matter which way they go.

There should always be big caveats considered on all campaign policies and pledges.

Labour’s tertiary election policy

Labour launched a refined tertiary education policy yesterday – they had already indicated what they would be offering some time ago. Key pledges – from the start of 2018:

  • Boost living cost assistance for students by $50 a week (currently about $170).
  • Everyone starting tertiary education for the first time will get one year full-time study fees free.

To be “funded out of the $6b that Labour has allocated to education in our Fiscal Plan” – that must be additional spending on education.

This is a big push to get the young vote. I’m not sure it will have the same impact on parents and grandparents that the Labour interest free loans policy had in 2005 (that is regarded as swinging that election in Helen Clark’s favour).

Labour’s summary:

Labour to make continuing education more accessible

Labour will increase the amount students can get in student allowances and living cost loans by $50 a week, while accelerating our plan to make three years of post-secondary education free, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“Labour’s plan will mean more young people can go on to study after school and gain qualifications with less debt.

“Students have told us that the priority needs to be living costs. Just getting by week-to-week has become a significant barrier to many people continuing to study.

“Right now a typical student receives an allowance of around $170, but many tell me that’s not enough to even cover their rent.

“Labour will therefore boost living cost assistance for students by $50 a week from the start of 2018.

“I’m keen to remove tertiary fees as quickly as possible, so I have brought forward by one year our three years’ free policy. From the beginning of 2018, everyone starting tertiary education for the first time will get one year full-time study fees free. That will be extended to two years free in 2021 and three years free in 2024. If conditions allow, we will accelerate this policy further.

“At the same time, we will restore the ability of people studying on long courses, like medicine, to get student allowances and loans. These high-level qualifications are in growing demand; it makes no sense to deny support to people studying towards them.

“This policy is funded out of the $6b that Labour has allocated to education in our Fiscal Plan, which has been independently assessed by BERL.

“Post-secondary school qualifications are becoming a necessity. If New Zealand is to be a wealthy, successful country in the 21st Century we need more of our young people going on to universities, polytechnics, other tertiary providers, or industry training such as apprenticeships.

“Yet, the proportion of young people in post-secondary school education and training is falling. We can’t continue going backwards on education if we want to go forwards as a country.

“Our commitment to life-long learning underlines the clear choice voters face this election – Labour believes in free education for everyone, and that’s what we’re working towards,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Free tertiary education for everyone is a big aim. Balanced against the promotion of better education is the risk of too much irrelevant education that won’t help people get better jobs, and too many people taking on free education when they are not capable of passing.

The costings should take into account of a probable need to expand universities and polytechnics to cater for increased numbers of students.

English announces National’s transport policy

Bill English is in Auckland announcing National’s transport policy.

Today we have announced that we will invest $267m to accelerate the construction of key commuter rail projects in Auckland & Wellington.

We will electrify the Southern Rail line to Pukekohe ($130m), and accelerate the delivery of the Third Main Rail Line in Auckland ($100m).

Electrification is a key element of the National led government’s focus on supporting a cohesive, efficient transport system for Auckland.

We’ve worked with Council to come up with a long-term, fully costed plan to deliver the transport system Auckland needs over the next 30 yrs.

In Wellington, we will deliver a package of projects worth $37m to support the increased use of commuter rail.

$267 million investment in commuter rail 

National is committing up to $267 million of investment over the next three years in the Auckland and Wellington commuter rail networks to support future passenger growth, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

The package includes the electrification of the Papakura to Pukekohe rail line, adding a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield and double-tracking the Wellington commuter network between Trentham and Upper Hutt.

“Commuter rail has experienced strong growth in Auckland and Wellington. The National-led Government is continuing its already considerable investment in public transport with a further $267 million investment in commuter rail,” Mr Bridges says.

“In Auckland we will invest $130 million to electrifythe track between Papakura and Pukekohe to support these important growth areas in the south and provide a more reliable and efficient services for commuters.

“Electrification is a key element of the National led government’s focus on supporting a cohesive, efficient transport system for Auckland.

“Auckland’s population growth has meant more commuter trains using the rail network around Auckland and competing with the growing number of freight trains using this important corridor.

“We’re committing to invest $100 million for a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield providing a dedicated freight line. This will increase the efficiency of this important corridor, allow for greater frequency, improve travel times and provide more reliability for commuters.

“We’ve worked closed with Council to come up with a long-term, fully costed plan to deliver the transport system Auckland needs over the next 30 years.

“This means we’re investing in the right projects, at the right times. Projects like the City Rail Link which will deliver a step change in Auckland’s commuter rail network.

“We are also announcing a $37 million Wellington Commuter Package. This will further enhance the reliability of Wellington’s commuter rail network and builds on Budget 2017’s $98.4 million investment in Wellington’s commuter rail network.

Wellington’s commuter rail package includes:
• A full double track on the Hutt Valley Line between Upper Hutt and Trentham – $22 million
• A third platform for Porirua Station – $3.5 million
• A turn-back facility at Plimmerton – $2.5 million
• Upgrade of bridges and slopes – $9 million
• Upgrade of ‘Park and Ride’ facilities for the Kapiti and Hutt Valley Lines
• A programme to integrate and optimise rail and bus services.

“The Wellington commuter rail package will enable a more reliable, efficient and frequent commuter service in Wellington. These improvements will support the growing the patronage of these services, Mr Bridges says.

“Together these projects represent a $267 million investment in commuter rail in our biggest cities commuter rail networks.

Q&A:  $267 million investment in commuter rail

Green Infrastructure Fund

James Shaw announced new Green Party environmental policy today:

Green Infrastructure Fund to help NZ become carbon neutral by 2050

The Green Party today announced a plan to kick-start the green economy, create jobs in the clean technology and infrastructure sectors, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The Green Infrastructure Fund will be a magnet to attract funding, and channel it towards the clean technology and infrastructure projects that will reduce New Zealand’s contribution to climate change.

“The Green Investment Fund will be the Kiwibank of the clean economy, kick-starting our transition to a carbon neutral economy by 2050,” Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said.

“New Zealand needs to jump on board the global response to climate change and get a piece of the economic action, instead of letting it pass us by.

“Around the world, people are building more clean energy like solar and wind than fossil fuels, but in New Zealand National has held us back from embracing clean economic opportunities.

“Under National, New Zealand will keep subsidising oil drilling instead of creating jobs in clean technologies. Only the Greens will change that.

“National has built a lot of motorways, but they’ve let other infrastructure deteriorate. The Green Infrastructure Fund will renew investment in the infrastructure we need, like clean energy, efficient buildings, sustainable agriculture, and waste reduction projects to keep New Zealand going for decades to come.

“The Green Investment Fund will help New Zealand increase our economic prosperity while at the same time reducing our contribution to climate change, as many European countries are beginning to do.

“Over time, the Fund will see billions of dollars used to build clean energy sources, sustainable agriculture projects, and the infrastructure our cities need to grow without compromising the environment.

“Being carbon neutral by 2050 is an ambitious goal, but it is the people who lack ambition who pose the biggest threat to our prosperity as a country,” Mr Shaw said.

James Shaw speech to the Green Party AGM: Green Infrastructure Fund

 

Labour’s family package

Labour has differentiated themselves from National with the the family package policy they announced today, which targets families with children but they would scrap National’s tax cuts so people without children will miss out unless they are a beneficiary or superannuant who will get a winter handout.

Labour will:

  • Boost Working for Families to all those who currently receive it and extend it to 30,000 more families, in addition to the Working for Families changes announced in Budget 2017.
  • Introduce a Best Start payment to help families with costs in a child’s early years.
  • Introduce a Winter Energy Payment for people receiving superannuation or a main benefit. 
  • Reinstate the Independent Earners’ Tax Credit.
  • Implement the Accommodation Supplement increases announced in Budget 2017.

Delivering for families

For all of our history, families have been at the heart of every decision Labour has made.

We introduced the welfare state and public health system in the late 1930s, because we know how important it is that families can get the care that they need.

We introduced the minimum wage and four weeks’ holiday pay, because we know how important it is that families have quality time together.

We introduced paid parental leave, because we know how important it is that parents have time to bond with their baby in those early months.

And today’s Labour Party is no different. We believe in families, and today we’ve announced a package that will deliver for them.

Our families package will leave 70% of New Zealand families better off than they would be under National’s package. Families on middle incomes will receive up to $48 a week more in Working For Families with Labour’s package than under National.

At the same time, our package will save more than $2 billion over four years, so we’ll be able to invest in houses, hospitals, schools and infrastructure – all the big issues that National has failed to tackle during their nine years in power.

We can do this because our package is targeted at families on low and middle incomes, and we’re not spending $400 million on an unaffordable tax cut for the top 10% of income earners, like National wants to, while public services face cuts and our people face a housing crisis.

This election comes down to choices, to what we think is a priority. Our package shows that Labour’s priority is, as it always has been, New Zealanders. We’ll give everyone a fair shot and the support they need to lead a happy, healthy life.

Labour knows healthy families mean a healthier society, and that’s in the interest of every New Zealander.

Read our full policy here: labour.org.nz/familiespackageshare on twitter