Saturday, 3 September 2011

If you’re in a hole... You don't sell your ladder!

The official period of the election campaign began on 26th August – three months before election day. Now you will see bill boards and TV promotions and information about issues that will help you decide.

I’m happy to say that many of the billboards you will see show my smiling face, with a big tick for Michael Bott. I have already had a few digs in the ribs about the tie I am wearing – pink. Perhaps it should have been red but there is nothing wrong with “passionate pink” for an image.

The other billboards coming your way include a promise to remove the 15% tax on fresh fruit and vegetables; to make the first $100 a week of you pay tax free; and to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. My favourite is the billboard against selling our state owned enterprises like the power generators : “When you are in a hole – don’t sell your ladder”.

The trouble with electioneering is that we have to get messages down to no more than the few words that will fit on a bill board. So my job in the run up to the election is to flesh out those billboards so that they mean more than what you get from the first hit; as I am constantly doing at meetings and at peoples front doors.

The undertaking to remove the tax on fresh fruit and vegetables is not just about lowering food costs. It’s about healthy food. It’s about good quality school lunches. It is part of Labour’s wider programme of support for families with young children.

The promise to make the first $100 of income each week tax free is also one part of a wider programme – some of which can be seen in the announced plan for a tax on capital gains. There will be a shift away from National’s tax benefits for the rich. Income above $150,000 a year will be taxed at 39%.

Increasing the minimum wage to $15 has huge implications for our economy. It is a simple and obvious move which has a major effect on the local economy of every town in the Wairarapa electorate. $15 an hour is still close to the poverty borderline but the effect is not just on the wage earner, but also on the local economy. Small businesses are going broke because customers don’t have the money to spend. Any wage increase will benefit not just the earner.

The National government’s strategy to lift us out of recession is creating high unemployment, low wages, few jobs, and no vision of a future that might lift our spirits. Labour will lift businesses, families and workers out of recession as we have done before.

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