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.

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