Monday, May 30, 2005

Simple Choices

Some delayed Budget commentary...

Do you support a budget that:

a) Tackles the economic and social problem of our low savings rate by helping ordinary families to begin putting money away for the future, with a little government assistance. Will provide a modest income couple with up to $10 000 to help them into a first family home. Gives targetted tax relief to businesses meaning that they are encouraged to invest in wealth producing plant and machinery. Puts over $1 billion extra into our public health system. Provides our older folk with 7500 more cataract operations a year. Provides more tertiary students with full allowances while studying.

b) Provides across the board tax cuts, ala the earlier Australian budget under which a low income working family received around $6 per week more, and a politician on a six figure salary received over $100 per week more. To pay for this public servants are layed off, and health and education spending is cut.

You have 3 months to think about your answer.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Not much blogging at the moment. Work is hectic!! Normal service should resume soon.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Helen Hits Pakuranga

The PM attended the Grey Power AGM in Pakuranga on Friday, and went down very well with the crowd of around 400 people.

She spoke at length about some of the more general issues facing voters at this election, and then more specifically about some recent policies of interest to older voters, notably:

- An increase in funding to allow 50% more cataract operations in public hospitals
- Changes to drivers licensing requirements for older drivers
- Reform of the rates rebate system.

The last point in particular was well received. As it stands, people are only eligible for a rebate if their income is below (something like) $8000, meaning that only around 8000 people receive the rebate. Under the new scheme, anyone earning under $20 000, who has a rates bill of $1000 or more will be eligible for the full rebate of $500. Hopefully this should a real help to the many local seniors who receive only national Superannuation, and have been saddled with big rate increases in recent years.

Chatting to Grey Power members after the meeting, even those who weren't naturally inclined to Labour were impressed with the PM's speech and her willingness to engage honestly with the audience on tough issues.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

British Election Results

The final result gives Blair a majority of 64 seats, down from over 160 in the previous parliament. For those Labour supporters in Britain who are hoping for a leadership change, this is probably the ideal result - Labour back in with a reasonable majority, but enough of a set back to destabilise Blair's leadership.

A slightly bigger swing to the Tories across a number of electorates could have made the result even more problematic for Blair. A friend of mine has closely analysed the result, and discovered that 17 Labour electorates were won by 1.5% or less. Had these seats moved to the Tories just a little more, Labour would have been faced with a majority of only around 30. Given internal dissension over several major issues, this would have left Blair struggling to build majorities in the House.

Anyway, that didn't happen, and instead Britain has, for the first time, elected a Labour government over three consecutive elections. Congratulations to Labour colleagues in Britain.

On checking the full resuls on the excellent BBC election website it would seem that the south-western seat of Totnes, where a Lib-Dem correspondent to this site is based, was very narrowly held by the Tory incumbent. Better luck next time :-)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Defence Announcement

The government's $4.6 billion boost to the defence forces is a welcome move.

Over the past decade or so, the scope of defence force activities has increased significantly, stretching personnel and equipment to the limit. At the same time, real funding decreases under National during the 1990s contributed to a running down of capability.

The government has done the right thing by commissioning a thorough cross-departmental report on the state of the forces to ascertain where the gaps are, and how much it will cost to re-build capacity. Instead of cutting corners, throwing away money on pointless but flashy hardware such as F16s, or making vague future commitments as Brash has, the government has then stumped up with a clear plan to rebuild defence capability, and the necessary dosh.

It's also wothwhile noting that the government has the ability to make significant funding announcements like this because of the good state of the books. National's tax cuts would remove the capacity of government to make these sort of big long-term spending commitments.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Campaign Progress

We've had a good couple of weeks of face to face campaigning, culminating yesterday with a blitz on the Cascades Rd area of the electorate. We leafleted, doorknocked, displayed signage, and held a stall - hopefully meaning that even the most docile local caught a glimpseof us at some stage!

The booths around Cascades have been pretty good for us in recent years, with Labour winning the Party vote by a small margin in the 2002 election.

The reception was very good, and even those who weren't naturally inclined to Labour were very friendly on the doorstep, and seemed to appreciate the effort we had made. With lots of young families in the area, we had a good chance to talk about education policy with people, and alert them to the consequences of the National policy for middle income areas. There were also some genuinely held concerns about drugs getting into local schools, an issue that I hadn't picked up on before.

Our door knocking campaign will be continuing on in this vein from now until election day. We're also about to start trying to set up 'cottage metings' across the electorate at which a group of people will come together at someones house for tea, bikkies, and a chat with the candidate. Not sure how the response to this will be, but one can only try!