Tuesday, August 16, 2005



Pledges and visions

Labour has revleaed its sixth key election pledge: funding 7500 extra cataract operations and 10,000 extra major joint procedures over the next three years. This will have a significant effect on quality of life for older New Zealanders, but it also establishes a clear point of difference with National: increasing health funding, rather than cutting it to fund tax cuts for the rich. Labour is gambling that people will vote for the health services they need and know they will get, rather than the tax cut which will mostly go to someone else.

But will it be enough? National has yet to announce its tax cuts, and Labour will need a sizable policy in reserve if it wants to gazump them too. Which it almost certainly does - with the exception of interest-free student loans, the pledges announced so far are all relatively cheap. There's room in their announced budget for another student-loan sized hit, though exactly what is obviously anyone's guess (though given the focus so far, I'd guess secondary education or elsewhere in the health sector - unless they went out on a limb and promised to build Auckland's underground).

Going into a third term, Labour needs to do more than just promise steady management and more of the same: they need to inspire people with their vision of New Zealand. And one is very clearly emerging from their policies: the Kiwi Saver scheme (announced in the budget), the focus on education (both apprenticeships and tertiary), and Working For Families all point to a society where those in need are properly supported so that they can fully participate, and where opportunity is available to all, rather than just those who can afford it. This again provides a clear contrast with National's vision of a society where the benefits flow to the rich and the poor are increasingly marginalised and excluded (from healthcare through user fees, from education through exclusion by privatised schools and high tertiary fees, and from housing through market rents).

Hopefully Labour's final pledge-card policy will solidly establish that vision rather than simply being a minor tweak.

4 comments:

This next term (assuming they win) will be quite a test for Labour. I agree, they need to do more than offer good management. I think that given the mild nationalism of the Clark government, it could be a good term to start laying the ground work for a republic in 2011 or 2014...

Posted by Anonymous : 8/16/2005 02:19:00 PM

That's what I'm hoping for. The first step should be nailing down the Governor-General's powers so that we all know exactly what they can do.

I'd also note that given their entrenched monarchist attitudes, I don't expect any progress on that front under a National-NZFirst government.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/16/2005 03:39:00 PM

Funding for the Auckland Underground shouldn't be paid for completely in year one from the budget for by issuing longterm bonds like any large infrastructural projects.

Posted by Uroskin : 8/16/2005 05:27:00 PM

Labour should announce 7500 extra Lazer eye surgery on the public budget. If you help younger people you get more bang for your buck anway.

Posted by Genius : 8/16/2005 07:32:00 PM