Namaste, Sat Sri Akal, Salaam, Ayubowan, Vanakkam, Ngā Mihi.
The general election is a crucial junction for all New Zealanders, including for those who trace their families to the Indian Subcontinent.
The Labour Party stands for a society where everyone has opportunities to get ahead. We stand for the humble person who dares to dream big.
Labour has always valued the colour and richness of our Indian communities. Many Indo-Fijians became Kiwis because (former Prime Minister, the late) David Lange provided refuge following the 1980s coups.
As Immigration Minister I worked to make decisions that were more fair and transparent.
Helen Clark’s Labour Government established the Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA) and appointed a Minister of Ethnic Affairs to ensure, for the first time, that your perspectives were considered in policy across government.
So we were shocked when National downgraded the OEA to little more than a brand within the Internal Affairs Department.
By contrast, as Prime Minister, I will create a full Ministry of Ethnic Affairs with powers in health, education, housing, law and order, broadcasting and employment, including the unacceptable under-employed skilled migrants.
Indo-Kiwis are visible entrepreneurial leaders in our small and medium businesses. Labour will deliver a comprehensive economic upgrade, by standing alongside industries, regions and groups to create jobs and improve living standards. I know your community will be crucial partners in the upgrade.
And I know that family values are at the core of your identities. So Labour will help 95% of families with a Best Start payment of $60 per week during the first year of a baby’s life after paid parental leave has expired, and we will extend paid parental leave so mothers and fathers can bond with new children.
We will also put 100,000 families into their first homes, while creating building, construction and engineering jobs with our ‘KiwiBuild’ package.
This year you will hear politicians promise many things. I ask only that you reflect on who has the better record for standing up for your communities, and who has the policies that seek a better tomorrow for your children.
David Cunliffe is Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.