It was excellent to see Phil Goff laying down the gauntlet to Key yesterday. He announced Labour’s policy to temporarily relax partner means testing for the dole and promised a recession response package. On the same day, Key’s big achievement was noting the Hillary family had settled their dispute with Auckland museum. Goff is saying ‘here are our solutions, where are the Key government’s?’ And Key’s being shown up.
Now, praise done, a few suggestions.
For example, the dole policy should have been designed as a lowering of the abatement rate for partner’s income from 70 cents in the dollar to 25 cents. Then it would have meant anyone whose partner earns up to $70,000 could get some level of dole and it would have cut off the Nats’ line of attack. It also would have lessened what is currently a major disincentive to work – effective tax of 91 cents in the dollar for a couple where one is on the dole and the other is earning over $14,000 a year. It would be cheaper than the carte blanche proposal too. Have a line of funding: ‘if Key can find $50 million for his cycleway and $35 million for private schools, he can find the money to help Kiwi families in their hour of need’
Not only have they got ideas that you ought to be interested in, they’ve got people like Peter Conway and Bill Rosenberg to help with the number crunching. Moreover, you should be coordinating the policy launch with them (or at the very least letting them know the details in advance) so they can reinforce the message. Remember the unions have campaign capacity and their leaders are influential media figures. There are 90,000 Labour-affiliated members alone and 370,000 union members in total. You want them knowing about your policies and spreading the word.
A speech, in Auckland, with members of unions, from beneficiary groups and poverty relief orgs. Don’t, whatever you do, speak to the Canterbury Manufacturers’ Association.
– Greater access to the dole.
– Extend the home insulation programme to rented houses, carrot of subsidy, stick of minimum insulation standard for rental properties.
– 75% subsidisation of the home and business energy efficiency measures identified in the Kema report would cost $750 million and save $2.5 billion worth of electricity, meaning cheaper power.
– Minimum redundancy provisions; the report recommending it is sitting on Kate Wilkinson’s desk.
– Public transport. More buses and more trained drivers can be on the roads in no time. They’ll ease congestion too.
Pay for it by ‘deferring’ the cycleway (‘a nice gimmick but New Zealand has bigger priorities right now’), rescinding the increase in private school funding, upping the royalties on oil production (the profits are all going overseas anyway), delaying the Supercity (‘we need to know how much this is going to cost and Aucklanders need to have their say first’), and with the windfall from the Aussie bank tax cases.