Reality is what people tell you, not the government

Priyanca Radhakrishnan 

Labour will build a fairer system that fixes the housing, health, education and safety crises – We have done it before and we will do it again.

We are less than a month away from the general election and things are getting exciting!

In the Maungakiekie electorate, where I am contesting as a Labour candidate, I see the Party getting support from the wealthier suburbs – areas that are not traditionally red.

Many tell me that they will be voting Labour this year because it is about time we had a government that will fix the housing crisis and ensure that the Health, Education and Police sectors are adequately funded so that they will work well.

Untimely waits and deaths

The Health sector has seen cumulative funding cuts in real terms of $2.3 billion.

As a result, patients at hospital Accident and Emergency Departments are being told to go elsewhere or face an eight-hour wait.

People are dying on surgery waiting lists. Young people are missing out on mental health care and New Zealand tops the developed world in youth suicide statistics.

Doctors, nurses, teachers, principals and police officers are stretched to breaking point. They are all being told to do more with less.

Eventually, we will get to a place where standards will start to slip – and it will not be the fault of those on the front line.

Abolishing National Standards

Speaking of standards, Labour in government will abolish National Standards.

Here is why.

Last week, I visited schools in the Maungakiekie electorate along with Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.

Teachers are struggling with 60 to 80 hour-weeks and much of that time is spent on administrative tasks that takes them away from their actual job, which is to teach our children.

National Standards were introduced in 2010 as a tool to assist parents and teachers monitor the performance of Year 1 to Year 8 pupils in Reading, Writing and Mathematics.

Sadly, principals, teachers and parents have serious concerns about them.

Uneven measurement

National Standards are neither national nor standard – they are applied differently between schools and are not consistent.

They also do not measure progress.

One of the Principals told us about students who make huge progress in reading and writing but are still behind the standard at which they should be at their age.

National Standards do not recognise that children have different starting points.

Using National Standards, parents are told that their child is not doing well enough – they are not told that the child is doing so much better now than he or she used to do.

That leaves children feeling that they are not good enough, parents thinking that their child is under-performing and teachers feeling frustrated because they know the truth.

Housing crisis

The main issue that people talk to me about on the campaign trail is unsurprisingly, the housing crisis. The next Labour government will make it a priority to fix it.

We will build affordable houses on a large scale, addressing speculation (including foreign speculation) to level the playing field for first-homebuyers and support those in need by stopping this government state house sell off.

We have done it before and we will do it again.

After nine years of National government, home ownership is the worst it has been in 60 years. My generation is locked out of owning a home unless their parents are in a position to help.

About 41,000 people are now homeless, based on the government’s own definition of homelessness. We have entire families living in cars and garages, and children studying in them by torchlight. Families are forced to move out of Auckland because the city is just expensive to live in. in my parents’ generation the average house price was three times higher than the average income. Now it is ten times higher.

False government propaganda

Yet, the government will tell you that the economy is strong.

They will tell you that they have shown a surplus this year.

What they do not say is that it is at the expense of investing in housing, health, education and safety. Growing the economy is important – but it is equally important that a strong economy results in a better life for everyone.

National has had nine years in government and yet we are tracking backwards.

This election is Labour’s chance to rebuild a fairer country for all of us –and a better future for our children.

Finally, if you live in the suburbs of One Tree Hill, Onehunga, Ellerslie, Mt Wellington, Tāmaki or Panmure, you belong to the Maungakiekie electorate.

I am asking for two ticks – to be the next MP for Maungakiekie and for a strong Labour-led government.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan is Labour Party’s candidate at the Maungakiekie Constituency in the general election scheduled to be held on Saturday, September 23, 2017.


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