Policies That Appeal

… Jacinda Ardern has promised a “relentlessly positive” election campaign, but she should not have been surprised to see her opponents go just as relentlessly negative. Dominion Post editorial, September 15 2017

Some great ideas from Labour

By Roger Childs

It’s good to see this election campaign being largely fought over policies. However, while Labour is announcing plenty of interesting and practical ideas for voters to weigh up, National is into its familiar scaremongering in a desperate attempt to keep its grip on the Treasury benches.

Labour has been progressive releasing policies in key areas such as health, education, housing and paid parental leave, and the concept on doing x number of things in the first hundred days is an appealing prospect.

Hopefully, if elected, the new government’s first few months will be more productive than Trump’s!

Night classes will be back!

In among the education provisions, is the promise to reinstate evening classes at the local high schools. National ditched them to save money and I don’t recall the government warning voters in advance about that decision.

Many readers will have attended these sessions in the past to:

 ~ learn another language

~ get tuition in carpentry or metalwork

~ attend cooking classes

~ pick up a craft

~ prepare for external examinations.

We used to go to Italian cooking classes and the weekly sessions were enjoyable and delicious experiences. There were 16 of us and we had four to a table. Each group prepared two dishes, so the ultimate outcome was a sumptuous feast!

Everything was covered from antipasto to dolce.

Tens of thousands of people across the country attended the evening classes in the old days, so it is great to know that they will hopefully be making a comeback.

A non-commercial television channel

This would be based on the ABC model which is so successful in Australia. The head of Fairfax here is worried that people here won’t want a government controlled channel.

Jacinda Ardern sees the new TV channel as being an extension of the popular non-commercial Radio New Zealand.

The latter is definitely not government controlled: ask any politician who has been interviewed by John Campbell, Suzie Ferguson, Guyon Espiner or Kathryn Ryan.

The ABC in Australia has often run foul of the political leaders, and Tony Abbott, when he was prime minister, was particularly critical. He even talked about closing it down!

The thought of having a non-commercial channel and avoiding the regular advertisement saturation is very appealing.

Making the Chinese bottlers pay

 As New Zealanders and locals, we need to act fast and make our protest heard about this latest threat to our water. National and local government should not allow foreign-owned water-bottling companies to take water from New Zealand’s pristine aquifers. Otakiri Save our Water and Environment spokesperson, Maureen Fraser, Sunlive 1 September  2017

The Okatiri aquifer is inland from Whakatane and Chinese company Nongfu’s New Zealand subsidiary, Creswell Enterprises, has recently applied to draw 580,000,000 litres a year from the source!

Another Chinese company, Orivida, pays just $526 yearly in compliance costs for extracting 400,000 litres a day from Okatiri. Thanks to the National government, they have a ten year deal.

All users of our precious water resources will probably be paying some sort of levy under a Labour-led government, as they should. It is ridiculous that foreign water bottlers paying a tiny compliance cost while plundering our limited fresh water supplies.

There is also the situation, resulting from dairy farming spreading into areas where the rainfall is inadequate, such as Canterbury and Central Otago. Consequently huge amount of water to  irrigate pastures is sucked out of rivers and aquifers, while animal effluent and nitrates flow back in.

National, traditionally a supporter of “user-pays”, is not happy with Labour’s plans because the Chinese economic interests like Orivida have given big donations to their campaign, and most farmers are traditionally right wing voters.

Restricting foreign property speculators

(Credit Newshub)

If non-resident foreigners want a house here, under Labour they would have to build a new one. Newshub 15 September 2017

This is another policy with makes sense. A friend in Auckland who frequently attends house auctions, reports that 90% + of the people bidding are Asians.

National’s trade spokesman Todd McClay, claims that such a policy could see New Zealand having to re-negotiate existing free trade agreements (FTAs).

A ban would cut across a range of existing free trade agreements we have with countries like Singapore, Australia and Korea, and cause considerable difficulty with China, These FTAs have non-discrimination provisions that ensure New Zealanders are treated fairly overseas, and in return that our trade partners are treated fairly in New Zealand.

As regards the FTA with China, New Zealand is not treated fairly. In recent years Chinese interests have bought up many farms, forestry blocks, companies and properties in this country, while New Zealand investors are forbidden from doing the same in China.

So China gets the “free trade” and we don’t.

A new era?

Whether Labour gets the chance to bring the much needed change to New Zealand’s social, economic and environmental development will be determined in a week’s time.

The polls are all over the place and one has to laugh at the ludicrous statements about margins of error.

As political commentator Tracey Watkins says in today’s Dominion Post, it could be time to start reading the tea leaves.