OPINION: Labour focused on health, education

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Last week, Labour announced an alternative budget.

As Dunedin North MP and Labour’s spokesman for health, I’m extremely proud of what it will achieve.

It puts an extra $8 billion into health and $4 billion into education, laying out clearly where the money comes from, and describing how our priorities are different from the current government’s.

When I’ve been out door-knocking across Dunedin in recent weeks, people on the doorstep have been telling me now is not the time for tax cuts. Labour has heard that message clearly.

Every New Zealander should have affordable access to quality healthcare when they need it.

That’s why we are committed to rejecting National’s election year tax cuts – to ensure we can pay for it.

Their election year tax cuts focus on the wealthy with an extra $400 million to the highest 10% of earners in New Zealand.

We think there are higher priorities than giving $1000 a year tax cuts to high-earners.

Our package proposes instead to focus on ensuring healthcare workers, teachers, and police are resourced to do their jobs.

Our plan has been carefully crafted to align with our priority of rebuilding public services.

Yes, we will deliver a hospital for Dunedin sooner rather than later.

Yes, we will deliver free post-secondary education bringing an extra $269 million to Dunedin each year.

Yes we will deliver for families by boosting Working for Families and supporting families with young children.

We will also deliver Winter Energy Payments for people receiving NZ Super.

These things can be afforded if we pay down National’s debt a little more slowly, and focus on putting people first.

Importantly, we will resume contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to help keep the age of Super at 65.

Under Labour’s plan, we’ll double the size of the existing fund to around $63 billion by 2022.

Labour’s families’ package delivers to all families with kids.

All families with a household income of less than $62,000 will be better off than they would be under the Government’s proposed package.

Perhaps surprisingly, our package is cheaper than the Government’s.

That is because it is more focused on those in need, and avoids tax cuts for the wealthiest few.

This leaves us money to spare for neglected public services like healthcare and education.

We believe the time is right to ensure every child can have a world-class education at their local school, that all Kiwis can have affordable access to quality healthcare, and that our elderly should be kept warm and comfortable in retirement.

We believe it is time to invest in public services rather than tax cuts targeted at the most wealthy. How about you?

By Dunedin North MP David Clark