Winston Peters addresses the media. Photo / Andrew Warner 051020aw05.JPG
The crowd at Winston Peters' public meeting. Photo / Andrew Warner 051020aw02.JPG
Young people, the poor and the elderly will get a free yearly dental check up, x-rays and a clean if New Zealand First is elected.
Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters made the announcement today
in Rotorua at a public meeting at the Millennium Hotel as he rolled out New Zealand First's Healthy Kiwis Package.
The policy will see free dental care through a yearly check-up, x-ray and clean for all those aged 18 to 25 and those holding Community Service Cards and SuperGold Cards.
He said this would be funded and provided at community-based dental facilities rather than overloading hospital services.
Despite Peters' concerns for the state of people's teeth, he said the scheme had to be means tested and "billionaires can't expect free dental care", especially given the current economic climate.
"It'll be for pregnant women, poor people, older people, retired people, people with medical difficulties and people on an ordinary income.
"It's astonishing that in this day in age, we are giving animals better dental care than we are human beings. It's a huge distraction from productivity and downright happiness as a fact because if you've got this sort of pain, you're not going to be as productive as you should be."
He didn't give specifics about income brackets but said it would be along the same lines as other means testing.
The extended free dental care was just one part of the Healthy Kiwis Package announcement. Other promises included:
• Increasing Pharmac funding to 1.4 per cent of GDP by 2023, in line with the OECD average.
• Providing a free annual eye check for over 65s.
• $10 million toward free counselling sessions through I Am Hope.
• Committed to funding the St John Ambulance Service, as requested.
Peters told the Rotorua Daily Post St John Ambulance desperately needed the funding boost as there was no way such an essential service should be begging "cap in hand" for funds to stay afloat, especially at a time when Covid-19 had seriously impacted charity funding.
He said they were today announcing that if elected they would fund the organisation 90 per cent of its costs.
The bus rolled into the Millennium Hotel just after 1pm today
as nearly 100 people - mostly supporters - sat in their seats thumbing their way through the glossy black and white New Zealand First brochures left on their seats.
After walking in the room to a standing ovation, Peters greeted his supporters with a joke about the narrowness of the stage, saying even Rotorua's favourite son, Sir Howard Morrison, had bigger stages.
After a bit of a chuckle, Peters had a dig at national media for publicising the early voting of other political party leaders. He said people shouldn't be rushing out to vote just yet.
He said parties were still "dropping clangers" - including Act's apparent fiscal hole of $8.7b revealed today
- and voters couldn't be sure there wasn't more to come.
There were several jibes at the Act Party - which had seen a rise in recent polls - and cautions from Peters about what they had actually achieved.
Peters took questions from the floor, including from Steven Chapman who asked Peters if he would ever consider going "completely plastic" when it came to currency, as cash jobs cost $6 billion in uncollected tax and it would destroy trade for drug dealers.
Peters said despite over 65s having the biggest uptake in IT skills, he was concerned a cashless society would lead to more elderly being ripped off.
New Zealand First supporter Gaye Craig travelled from Mt Maunganui to see Peters, saying she always liked listening to him.
"He was the best MP for Tauranga. What did Simple Simon do for Tauranga? He gave us two toll roads and he was the Minister of Transport."