Electors go to the polls to select a new government on November 26.
It is a critical election and your decision will shape the New Zealand of tomorrow. Major political parties are offering different futures through their policies and electors have to decide what type of future they want to bequeath to their children and grandchildren.
One of the major choices is whether you want to sell profitable state-owned strategic assets like electricity companies and our national airline to private investors or whether you want to retain them in state ownership and use their profits to pay for the health, education and support services that a decent society guarantees to all its citizens.
The views of the public are very clear.
Retaining State Assets
An overwhelming majority wish to retain these assets in state ownership.
(Prime Minister) John Key knows that he is losing this battle and hence has over the past fortnight developed a new position – the money from asset sales will be put into a Development Fund to pay for future schools and hospitals.
The Government wants us to believe that the private sector is always more efficient and successful than the public sector and therefore they will do much better with these assets.
Mr Key knows that the private sector bankrupted Air New Zealand and the Railways forcing the Government to buy them back. He and (Transport Minister Steven) Joyce should explain these private sector failures.
The National Party will not stop with the sale of the power companies and Air New Zealand and have earmarked New Zealand Post, Kiwi Bank, Accident Credit Corporation (ACC) and others for privatisation.
They want their supporters in the private sector to be advantaged while they set about cutting services to the most vulnerable New Zealanders.
We have already seen how they work. They gave much bigger tax cuts in dollar terms to the well off while giving a pittance to those on limited income.
They have not shown any compassion for the workers and those on limited income.
The Key Government has also set about cutting back on the state sector.
The state sector largely educates our children, supports the needy and turns up whenever there is a disaster or an emergency.
These are our teachers, nurses, emergency workers and support staff in many areas of service provision.
Mr Key wants to cut this sector, using the language of efficiency to get support.
No one is fooled.
Those on limited or low incomes will be the ones affected by cuts to the public sector because the well-off will always be able to buy the services they need.
Therefore, Mr Key’s future is a “cut and sell” future for New Zealand.
A just society
The Labour alternative is a fairer society in which we invest in our children and their futures.
It is a society where everyone is as good as the other, where we take care of our children, give them the best start in life possible, ensure everyone has a job and a decent wage, and where our later years are safe and productive.
This invest approach is the only one that will lift all boats and create a New Zealand where we all can be winners.
Do not be fooled by the short-term programme of Mr Key.
Make your vote count by using it to elect a Party that will govern for all New Zealanders, invest in our futures and own it for all future generations.
These are perhaps the most important aspects of this election and a future National Government will risk all that we have gained over the years if it is given a mandate to proceed with its sell and cut agenda over the investment approach to our families and communities that Labour prefers.
Dr Rajen Prasad is Member of Parliament on Labour List and the Party’s Ethnic Affairs Spokesman.