As Polling approaches, the choice is sharpening

Michael Wood

With just eight weeks until General Election 2017, the choice for Kiwi voters is sharpening.

I believe that New Zealand is the best country in the world. We have abundant natural resources, a stunning natural environment, and people who are tolerant, kind, hard-working, and innovative.

Pressing challenges

However, we cannot deny that we also face some real problems: (a) A housing crisis that has resulted in the lowest home ownership rate since 1951, escalating rents, and thousands of people pushed out of secure housing and on to the streets (b) A disturbing increase in violent crime, with burglaries on the rise and a spate of terrible violent attacks on people in small shops across Auckland (c) A transport system that is creaking at the seams with chronic congestion in Auckland and huge under-investment in many regions around the country and (d) Under-investment in many key public services, including health and mental health where people in desperate need are not receiving timely care.

Government needs to be relentlessly focused on building on New Zealand’s strengths and addressing our problems so that every New Zealander has the opportunity to succeed in life and achieve their potential.

Collective action

So, the question needs to be, what can we collectively do, to address these problems and make New Zealand an even better place to live?

The National Party says that the answer is tax cuts. While tax cuts will personally benefit someone like me on a high income to the tune of an extra $1000 per year, I cannot see how they will actually fix any of our problems.

Fresh Approach

Labour has a fresh approach that was outlined in our recently released fiscal strategy. Instead of ignoring the above issues, we will confront them head on and invest in high quality public services to make sure that everyone in our society has real opportunity.

We will start to make housing more affordable by investing in KiwiBuild, creating 10,000 affordable homes for first home buyers each year, and investing the proceeds in the next year’s build.

Decent housing is one of the most basic human need, and the next Labour government will simply not tolerate homeless people dying on our streets, as two people have over the past fortnight.

Strategic Investment

We will invest in 1000 new community based police officers to help make our communities safer. With more community police kiosks and cops on the beat, we can reduce crime, improve police responsiveness, and make people feel safer.

We will also invest to make sure that all our young people are ‘earning or learning’ because when people have some direction and hope, they are far less likely to turn to crime.

We will invest in reliable, first world public transport in Auckland and our other growing cities. People should be able to move around our cities without heavy congestion which wastes time and productivity. Look out for fresh new Labour policy in this area soon.

We will make sure that people in our health and mental health systems get the care they need by reversing National’s underfunding of the health system.

Under Labour, every secondary school will have access to a mental health care team. Across the broader system we will invest over two billion dollars to ensure that kiwis have first world health services and don’t have to languish on the waiting list.

Conscientious Choice

All these things will be possible if we choose it.

As a country, we can choose National’s tax cuts or Labour’s plan to invest in the public services that will give all New Zealanders an opportunity.

Labour has always stood for the many, not a few.

Our fresh approach will ensure that New Zealand builds on our strengths and gives every person in our country the ability to reach their full potential in life.

Every voter has this choice on September 23 and over the coming eight weeks I look forward to discussing even more of Labour’s vision for a stronger and fairer New Zealand.

Michael Wood is elected Member of Parliament from Mt Roskill and is Labour Party’s candidate in that Constituency in the General Election to be held on September 23, 2017. He is Labour’s Spokesman for Ethnic Communities and Revenue. Email: michael.wood@parliament.govt.nz

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