Good policies come in red package

In my first article (Indian Newslink, July 15, 2014), I discussed the concept of Indian identity and challenged the notion of one ‘authentic’ Indian.

As it was my introductory piece, I also shared a little about myself – who I am, where I come from and what I stand for. My second (August 1) and third (August 15) articles outlined Labour’s plans to build a strong, sustainable economy and explored the growing inequality in New Zealand respectively.

Together they made the case for growing our economy and distributing its benefits equitably for a more functional society.

My fourth article (September 1) highlighted aspects of one of Labour’s popular policies – our vision for a healthy New Zealand.

Important Issues

This election, Labour is campaigning on issues that matter to all of us in New Zealand, regardless of who we are and how much we may earn – jobs, homes and family.

Labour’s vision for New Zealand is a fairer country where jobs that are safe and pay decent wages are available to those who need them, decent work that allows us to afford a home that is warm, dry and healthy and measures that give our children the best start in life and allow our families to flourish.

You may have heard us say that Labour puts people at the heart of our policies.

It is not just a tagline that sounds good.

What it means is that our policies benefit all of us in New Zealand, and not just the few in the highest income brackets. It also refers to the fact that our policy development is integrated and wraps around the welfare of those who are impacted by it.

Many of the issues we are facing today – an overinflated housing market, climate change and child poverty, for example – result directly from human activities.

However, they do not exist in a vacuum.

They are conditioned by norms and habits, and by public policy.

In my article on health, I had mentioned that our health policies and housing policies, for example, reinforce one another. There is no point in strengthening our public health system if we are just going to discharge patients from an excellent hospital right back into a damp, cold house that will invariably cause illness.

Healthy Homes

I am proud of Labour’s housing policy package because the policies proposed analyse various impacts and causes of our overinflated housing market, and attempt to address them.

One of the main barriers to home ownership is the difficulty of getting your foot on the door. We just do not have enough new, entry-level homes and housing is increasingly becoming unaffordable.

A recent OECD report found that in 2013, New Zealand had the fastest growing house prices in the developed world, the second highest price relative to incomes, and the highest relative to rents.

Labour’s policy response addresses both the supply and demand sides of housing affordability. Labour will build 100,000 modest new homes over ten years because leaving it up to the market to increase our housing supply has not worked. We will also reduce and stabilise mortgage interest rates through monetary policy reform and reduce speculation to make housing more affordable.

Reducing speculation

We need to look no further than the Asian economies that were devastated by the financial crisis in the late 1990s. More than a decade of rapid economic growth, including intense housing speculation for short-term capital gains, created a housing bubble that eventually burst.

As a result, countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and China took specific measures, including additional taxation and stamp duty, to reduce speculation. It is widely accepted internationally that housing speculation drives genuine investors away from the market.

Labour’s housing policy package takes the realities of the housing market into account and proposed various measures to make housing more affordable. That sounds like evidence-based, well-thought through policy formulation to me.

Vote Positive

Advance voting has begun and will continue till September 19. If you have not enrolled yet, you can do so until that day.

I urge you to exercise your democratic right to vote.

Vote early and vote positive for a better New Zealand.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan is a List Candidate of Labour Party in the forthcoming General Election to be held on September 20, 2014.

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