Wednesday, 19 October 2011

And Now A Housing Crisis Is Looming ....

Real leadership involves more than just turning up for photo opportunities. When times are hard you can actually see true character coming out. We saw it in Mr Key’s treatment of Ohorere School and now over this past fortnight we have again seen the real character of this Government.
For the first time in 13 years we have just had a double credit rating downgrade.
This was doubly damaging for National given Mr Key’s measuring of the success of the 2009 budget by the fact that an alleged possible downgrade was apparently avoided. Evidently credit rating agencies do not think highly of Mr Key’s performance.
Then Mr Key was caught out being slippery when he claimed that Standard & Poors said a downgrade would be more likely under Labour. His defence was weak in the extreme and consisted of providing an anonymous email that did not back up what he alleged.
The Government was also caught out on the emergency video surveillance legislation with its claim that the legislation must have retrospective effect otherwise compelling evidence would be lost. This was untrue. Section 30 of the Evidence Act allows courts the discretion to admit improperly obtained evidence in any event.
And then the Rena shipwreck happened.
The Government has been hamfisted and slow in its response. Four days of good weather were wasted as the Rena slowly oozed oil so that now an environmental tragedy is inevitable. Where was Mr Key?
The day after the wreck, there was a picture of our smiling PM in the Herald, pretending to put up a campaign billboard for his Hamilton candidate.
When real pressure is applied this Government is not up to scratch.
When the Government raised the GST tax to 15 per cent, accompanied by a major tax cut for the wealthy and small change for everyone else, it was obvious that the move was grossly unfair.
The Treasury report confirms that the gap between the lower paid and the highly paid widened as expected. Further, we now have the admission that the GST didn’t pay for the tax cuts to the rich, as Mr Key claimed and, in fact, cost us more than $1.1 billion – this makes Mr Key’s competence and management suspect.
In essence, this move of the Government’s was one that New Zealand couldn’t afford. It has seriously depleted the Government’s coffers and led to cuts in services and jobs and added to Government debt. Labour warned about this at the time and we now see that these concerns were justified. The Treasury report has revealed that the tax switch has pushed up the cost of living, dramatically increased income inequality, and failed to stimulate the economy, not to mention the gaping hole it has created in Government accounts.
The Government has had to face many challenges such as the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes. But they have also made some poor policy choices that have made it even harder to cope with the crisis and the earthquake.
And the irony is that although many of their policy choices have been on the basis that we must not lose our international credit rating or the cost of borrowing on the international market would rise steeply, our rating has just been downgraded. That will send interest rates up and will dramatically increase the cost of mortgages. Add the proposed trebling of house insurance costs, and we have a looming housing crisis to add to the mix.
Labour is going into these elections with a tax policy that will help correct that basic inequality which is now crippling the country; tackling youth unemployment, reducing cost of living pressures, taxing capital gains, retaining our national assets as a vital income source – no tax on the first $5000 of income and a tax increase for those who earn more than $150,000.
Under National’s watch, the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow. Unemployment has increased and the cuts will continue.
Time and time again my encounters with the people of the Wairarapa while out doorknocking, brings home to me that many people are struggling to make ends meet. Some of the stories I have heard on the doorstep have left me appalled. Those stories come from almost every area within each of those towns, in an electorate that has been neglected by the Government.
National has a commitment to ‘‘Building a Brighter Future’’,the slogan they used three years ago!
Labour has a carefully costed plan for fixing the underlying problems that are holding us back. Forget the slogans – go for the detail. As a gentleman’s tailor would say ‘‘Never mind the width, feel the quality’’.

Published in the Wairarapa News, 19 October 2011

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