Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

It's in with the old as Labour tests policies on rest home residents

Labour leader David Cunliffe is grabbed by Vilma Brooking during his visit to Wesleyhaven Retirement Village in Lower Hutt. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour leader David Cunliffe is grabbed by Vilma Brooking during his visit to Wesleyhaven Retirement Village in Lower Hutt. Photo / Mark Mitchell

David Cunliffe's prime ministerial credentials are still up for debate, but he was a clear hit with at least one member of the older generation on the campaign trail.

As Prime Minister John Key continued to grapple with the fallout of the Dirty Politics revelations, the Labour leader had his tail up as he made new policy promises to senior citizens during a visit to the Hutt Valley yesterday.

Wesleyhaven Retirement Village resident Vilma Brooking asked a few frank questions of Mr Cunliffe, before admitting: "When you first started I really didn't like you but you've grown on me."

Mr Cunliffe was then taken by surprise as she almost knocked him off his feet in a bear-like hug.

The Dirty Politics saga was barely raised during his visit, but Mr Cunliffe attempted to draw a line between National and Labour's campaigns by repeating his party's "Vote Positive" mantra and focusing on new policy.

That policy included a comprehensive plan for aged care including pay parity for nurses and caregivers who look after older people and the creation of specially tailored care plans for the elderly.

But it was previously announced promises including a minimum wage rise and free doctors' visits for people 65 and over that resonated most with older voters.

The Labour leader found himself defending his party's proposed spending at all stops on the trail.

"Where will the money come from?" asked one rest home resident.

Mr Cunliffe said raising the top tax rate to 36c in the dollar, raising the trust tax rate, and introducing a capital gains tax would mean "everything was paid for" and surpluses would be maintained.

He justified the controversial proposal to extend free healthcare to over-65s by saying that they had paid tax all their lives and were more likely to be on fixed incomes.

Later, at a Grey Power meeting attended by about 60 people, he announced plans to create an Aged Care working group which would advise on deadlines and funding for improving the sector's staffing levels, wages, and elder abuse prevention.

Senior citizens policy
• New Aged Care working group to set deadlines and funding for greater staff levels, wages, and elder abuse prevention
• Aged Care Commission to oversee this and investigate complaints
Free GP visits and prescriptions for people 65 and older
• Restart Super Fund contributions, lift super age from 65 to 67 from 2020 over 12 years

- NZ Herald

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