By Alex Tarrant
Labour tried to keep the debate firmly on health, while National was out promoting its economic record during Tuesday’s campaigning. Both Jacinda Ardern and Bill English are set to spend time in Auckland on Wednesday ahead of the final leaders’ debate at 7pm.
Winston Peters kept pushing on “Communist China’s hold on New Zealand,” and on Wednesday is set to talk about water tax in Ashburton to a farming group. This follows him receiving a relatively frosty reception in Morrinsville on Monday.
The Opportunities Party (TOP) had a go at Labour’s water policy, saying they had “joined farmers across the country in rejecting Labour and other parties plans to tax water.” Co-deputy leader Geoff Simmons wrote that a market price for water “would allow farmers and other business folk to make rational decisions about their water consumption.”
“The amount of water available for such commercial use will of course not exceed sustainable levels in terms of preserving and enhancing our waterways,” he said.
Meanwhile, the final 1 News Colmar Brunton poll is due at 6pm tonight, ahead of the debate. The final Newshub Reid Research poll is due Thursday evening.
Water vs health
Ardern on Tuesday was asked about Labour’s water policy by the travelling media pack in Wellington. Asked to explain who it would apply to, she said those “using water for commercial gain and are not covered by municipal, or are not using water for stock water. It would be 1-2 cents per thousand litres.”
Not just farmers? “No, and we’ve never claimed it was just for farmers,” she said. “But it does exclude people on municipal supply, those who use it for stock water. Essentially, anyone who’s already charged is not covered by this policy.”
Well, that final comment is just going throw up a whole lot more confusion on Labour’s stance. No one is currently charged for the actual water that they consume in New Zealand. But rural users – just like urbanites – face existing charges relating to consents and rates (for delivery). She meant to say, no commercial users charged by councils for delivery of water through municipal pipes.
The exchange on water was a brief respite of Ardern’s main message of the day, on health funding. Labour released a ‘report card’ on National’s performance. This included notes like the average adult GP fee had risen 32% under National, and 58,000 Kiwis had been denied specialist appointments.
Read Labour's statement below
From increased GP fees, to kids getting sick from cold homes, to denial of important surgeries, National’s underfunding of health has hurt Kiwi families, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.
“It’s time to invest in the health of our families. If we want action on health, we need a Labour Government.
“Nine years of drift and underfunding by National has left us with 20 children a year dying from poor housing, with too many young people committing suicide, with lives needlessly shortened by insufficient care.
“Every day, there are new stories of hardworking doctors and nurses who can’t keep up with demand, overflowing hospitals, and New Zealanders missing out on the care they need. We can do better than this.
“Three more years of National would bring the same as the past nine – underfunded health services that are cracking under the strain.
“I fully expect Bill English to dismiss these figures; he will say there is no problem in health. After nine years, what else can he do? But the fact is, he authored every Budget that starved our health service of the resources it needs for a growing and ageing population.
“I believe that properly funding health is more important than tax cuts that deliver the most to the top earners. It is wrong to be prioritising $20 a week for top earners when there are people in need being turned away from our hospitals.
“I challenge Bill English to explain why he hasn’t committed the additional $6.7 billion health needs just to keep up with demand over the next four years. Labour’s Fiscal Plan allocated an extra $8 billion to health so we can keep up with demand and improve the health services Kiwis get. Why hasn’t National committed to funding health properly?
“It’s time for Labour’s positive plan to fund health properly, reduce GP fees by $10 a visit, boost frontline mental health services, and ensure our homes don’t make kids sick.
“If New Zealanders want action to fix our health system, rather than three more years of drift, then they need to give their party vote to Labour. Let’s do this,” says Jacinda Ardern.
Meanwhile, Bill English was in Blenheim talking about how National was committed to growth, and that New Zealanders had a clear choice this election. You can read his full statement below. Campaign chair Steven Joyce released a new ad, underlining “clear choice for voters.”
New Zealanders have a clear choice this election between two very different economic directions for New Zealand – National’s plan to grow jobs and incomes and ensure families continue to get ahead, and Labour’s agenda that would take us backwards, Prime Minister and National Party Leader Bill English says.
“National is ambitious for New Zealand. We have a confident and comprehensive plan for a confident and growing country,” Mr English says.
“Today we are setting out the choice New Zealanders have on the economy, so they can see the difference between National’s clear and ambitious plan for the future, and the vague and pessimistic ideas of our opponents.”
National’s economic plan is about backing New Zealanders to succeed. National will:
- invest in skills and infrastructure, and maintain a fair industrial relations system, to give our businesses the confidence to invest another dollar, and employ another person.
- ambitiously pursue trade agreements that connect our exporters to the world. We will ensure our immigration settings mean we are attracting the right people with the right skills to drive growth.
- prudently manage the Government’s finances while still investing in world-class public services and infrastructure. And we will lower government debt, to help prepare for the next rainy day.
- continue to grow incomes by reducing income taxes and increasing support for New Zealanders. Our Family Incomes Package will benefit 1.3 million families by $1350 a year on average.
Mr English says Labour on the other hand would put a handbrake on growth.
“Labour would increase taxes, and create uncertainty for business through their tax working group which would undoubtedly lead to capital gains and land taxes. They would stop free trade agreements, heavily cut migration and radically reform industrial relations.
“Our opponents haven’t realised that you have to keep growing the economy or you can’t spend the money. Labour have spent so much this election that their own numbers show they need to run two Budgets with no new spending outside health and education – that’s despite them borrowing $11 billion more than National.
“Meanwhile they would slow down growth which would mean less government revenue and even higher debt.
“We can’t risk that. New Zealand hasn’t become one of the best-performing economies in the developed world by accident.
“Our plan for the economy is delivering for New Zealanders. 181,000 jobs have been created in the last two years, and the average annual wage is up $13,000 under National. Someone working on the minimum wage has seen their annual income go up $8,000 since 2008.
“That success is why we can invest in better public services, put more money into family budgets, build world-class infrastructure like hospitals, schools and roads and help our most vulnerable to lead better lives.
“If we stay on track we can build on that success, delivering more jobs, higher incomes, and even greater opportunities for New Zealanders.
“National is committed to ensuring all New Zealanders get ahead. That starts with a strong and growing economy. Only National has a plan to ensure that continues,” Mr English says.
Voters can see their clear choice on the economy at www.national.org.nz/economy_choice.
Meanwhile Peters chose to focus on the Communist Chinese takeover of New Zealand’s government apparatus:
Communist China’s hold on New Zealand has to be explained, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland Member of Parliament Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“Last week we called for a full inquiry into how Jian Yang, a member of the Chinese Communist Party with strong ties to their intelligence community, could become a National List MP in our Parliament.
“Prime Minister Bill English treated this serious matter lightly saying Dr Yang was double-checking his application from 13 years ago, which was a cop-out.
“This week, leading academic Professor Anne-Marie Brady said a special commission was needed to investigate China’s impact on our democracy.
“She said Australia was looking to introduce a law against foreign interference in domestic affairs.
“Besides Australia, the US, Canada, UK, Japan and EU are also deeply worried by China’s policy of expansionism and control.
“In five years China has taken over New Zealand’s milk infant formula industry and they have the back door key to our dairy industry added value.
“Silver Fern Farms, our biggest red meat exporter, fell to a Chinese takeover, with the deal going through last year.
“All over the country, National and local government politicians have talked of Chinese interests funding infrastructure.
“China is quietly starting to dominate the lives of New Zealanders and clearly our economic direction – National must explain,” says Mr Peters.