David Cunliffe will today throw down his biggest spending promise of the election, wooing middle income voters with an attractive health package at Labour’s campaign launch in Auckland.
He is set to announce a $250m-plus primary healthcare package, including free healthcare for pregnant women.
Labour announced during the week that it would boost primary health funding by $60m, two-thirds of it to support GPs in providing free or low-cost visits to vulnerable communities, but the Sunday Star-Times has learned Cunliffe will go much further today.
In a direct play for the centre vote, Cunliffe last night announced plans to spend $10m on free GP visits, dental care and prescriptions for all pregnant women, and today will unveil another $90m to extend the Care Plus scheme if Labour wins the September election.
OK, so far so good. A couple of facts and figures, a claim of a mini-scoop, and some analysis of where the policy is pitching. Good yarn. But then comes the ending…
Outside Auckland Hospital, expectant parents James and Emma Miller were not too impressed with the policy announcement, saying it wasn’t much better than what they already received.
Miller, whose labour was induced yesterday, said the most prohibitive cost of pregnancy was maternity leave. “Most people in my antenatal class were all rushing to get back to work,” she said. “We’d rather live with less and not feel rushed to go back to work.”
Um, so Labour is doing that already. It called extended Paid Parental Leave. We have made quite a song and dance about it in the last three years. National even partially caved in to Labour’s pressure.
Seems like that fact would have been relevant here, no?