Democratic ideals should include social responsibility

Andrew Little – democratic-ideals-should-andrew-little-web

I congratulate Indian Newslink on reaching for reaching its 17th anniversary.

For nearly two decades, Indian Newslink has been a leading publication and centre of information for New Zealand’s growing Indian community, and I am sure that it will continue to be for many years to come.

Labour believes that democracy is not just about voting or the right for people to push the issues they care about in the political sphere.

Democracy is also about having the freedom to live a good life, the way you want to live it, and to participate in our community and our cultures.

The Kiwi Dream

It is this ideal that we call the Kiwi dream, and it’s something that Labour has always seen as one of its guiding principles.

The great Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk (1972-1974) said that people just want “someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for.”

It is the job of government to create a stable and prosperous society where everyone has the opportunity to do that.

The policies that I have announced in my time as Labour Leader have all been about ensuring that New Zealand is a country with deep democracy, where everyone has a fair go, and the chance to live the Kiwi dream.

Larger Police force

I have announced that Labour will recruit 1000 more police officers because the rising tide of crime is making people feel unsafe in their homes and in their businesses.

A safe community is absolutely essential to democracy, yet crime is out of control with burglaries up 18% in the last year alone.

The Indian community is being particularly hard hit by rising crime.

Indian victims

democratic-ideals-should-andrew-little-at-balaji-temple-in-hamilton-webIndians make up 29% of robbery victims, and robberies of Indians are up by 60% in the last year. It is a disgrace that National has cut the number of police.

Labour’s plan to hire 1000 more police will make us safer and give us the freedom to live the lives we want.

I have announced a comprehensive housing plan because homeownership is a foundation of a democratic society.

Under the current government, the ownership of land and housing, with all the political power that entails, is becoming concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. Out of control house prices are shutting families out of homeownership.

Containing house prices

We need to stabilise house prices and give people a chance to buy a place of their own. That is why Labour will build 100,000 affordable homes for first homebuyers to purchase. We will clamp down on speculators who are turning our houses in to gambling chips and outbidding working families.

We will require all rentals to be of a decent, healthy standard for people to live and we will build more state houses and emergency housing so that homeless people have a place to go.

Decent work and a fair share of our country’s prosperity, as well as public services that we can rely on, are also vital if we are to participate in our society and cultures.

Worker Welfare

Labour has also stood for a fair deal for working people and for good public services. That is why we have pledged to protect workers’ rights and ensure that the government buys from Kiwi businesses whenever possible.

We have fought hard against National’s cuts to health and education. We have pledged to reverse the cuts and make it easier for people to get a qualification through fees free tertiary education and subsidies for apprenticeships.

Many policies implemented by previous Labour Governments that are now cornerstones of New Zealand society are rooted in that idea – free education, free public healthcare, universal ACC, state housing, Working for Families – to name only a few. They are now core parts of our democracy.

It is a legacy that I am proud to continue.

Promoting Core Values

It is these values that underpin Michael Wood’s campaign as Labour candidate in the Mt Roskill by-election.

Michael has spent many years working at the grassroots level in Mt Roskill, driven by the core belief that people do well when living in strong, fair, and supportive communities.

He has been a member of the Puketapapa Local Board since 2010.

For years, he has been a close friend and advisor to Phil Goff, who resigned from Parliament last month after being elected as the Mayor of Auckland.

As the only candidate who lives locally, Michael’s Mt Roskill campaign is focused on making sure everyone gets a fair shot at the Kiwi dream; making sure there is good, affordable housing for everyone; making sure our communities are safe; and good public transport in the form of light rail that Mt Roskill needs.

I know that Michael will do an excellent job representing the diverse communities of Mt Roskill in Parliament.

It is the responsibility of politicians to create the conditions and opportunities whereby citizens can fully express themselves and determine their own place in the world. The Kiwi dream is at the heart of Labour’s vision for democracy, and it is a vision that we will bring to the next election.

Free Education to cope with changing life

Labour’s Working Futures Plan will provide three years of free post-school education across a person’s life so New Zealanders can thrive in the 21st century economy.

The nature of work is changing constantly. To compete into the future and seize opportunities as they arise we need one of the best educated workforces in the world.

Working Futures Plan

Our Working Futures Plan means that no matter what path someone wants to take after school, be it university or an apprenticeship, they will be able to gain the skill they need to succeed without being shackled with years of debt.

It will be available throughout a person’s lifetime, so that it can be used for retraining or if someone changes career part way through their working life. It will ensure businesses will always be able to find the skilled workers they need.

Continuous learning

We are entering an age where education throughout your life is more necessary than ever. Skills, knowledge, training and retraining are the currency of the future of work. We know that education changes lives. It liberates people. It unleashes new ideas, and it levels the playing field, whatever your background.

Labour will prepare New Zealand for the future – with a world leading education system supporting the innovative and job-rich economy we need to get ahead.

Andrew Little is Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition in New Zealand Parliament.

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