Andrew Little: National neglecting 'middle New Zealand'

Labour Party leader Andrew Little. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour Party leader Andrew Little. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour leader Andrew Little has used a pre-Budget speech to accuse National of neglecting 'middle New Zealand' and promised a Labour government would do more for housing affordability and health.

There were no new policy announcements in Mr Little's speech, which focused mainly on criticising National's record and accused it of favouring "the few at the very top."

Mr Little said if Labour was in charge of this year's Budget it would invest heavily in new infrastructure to kick kickstart the economy.

"And to help everyone succeed, the Government I lead will address the real causes of the housing crisis." He said Housing Minister Nick Smith was "flailing round with gimmicks" such as special housing areas and releasing Crown land for housing.

"We can't keep going like this. If we do, we're going to be left with a country where home ownership becomes the privilege of just a very lucky few rather than a birth right for most Kiwis." He said restoring widespread homeownership should be a priority and listed Labour's plans to ban overseas buyers buying a house unless it was a new build.

"It's a commonsense solution that our current government has opposed for far too long."

He also promised to ensure more houses were built, both by replacing Auckland's urban limit and "a mass home building programme to deliver new, affordable homes in Auckland and round the country."

Mr Little said in the eight years under a National Government, the proportion of economic growth that went back to working New Zealanders in wages had dropped from 50 per cent to 37 per cent. Instead he accused National of favouring "those at the top" through policies such as allowing foreign trusts and tax on multinationals.

Mr Little contrasted National's last eight Budgets with those of the last Labour Government, which delivered legacy programmes such as Working for Families and KiwiSaver.

He said spending in health under National had not keep up with inflation and Prime Minister John Key was now talking about $3 billion of tax cuts after 2017.

"While our Prime Minister speculates about fuelling his next election campaign with three billion dollars of unfunded tax cuts, the public services that middle New Zealand relies on are stretched to breaking point."

He also said National was throwing money at charter schools while the public education system was struggling and and schools had to ask parents for more in donations.

- NZ Herald

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