Sunday, 31 August 2014

National, Labour and debt

Watching the analysis of the Q+A debate between National's Bill English and Labour's David Parker this morning, a quick note stated that National has increased government borrowing, and that Labour's record was paying down debt and running surpluses.

Both statements are true. Like the Bolger/Shipley National Government of the 1990s, the Clark/Cullen Labour Government of the 2000s paid down debt with the surpluses they ran. The current Key/English National Government borrowed money so we could weather the economic storm New Zealand entered (it should always be remembered) before the rest of the developed world in 2007. Then there was the global financial crisis leading to the finance company collapses, Canterbury earthquakes and Pike River to pay for.

The first problem for Labour is that its record was only good for a short time - in its last five years of office spending increased by 50%, this pushed mortgage rates to 11% and causing inflation to exceed 5%. The final PREFU under Labour in 2008 forecast 10 years of persistent government deficits, which would've put the country into billions and billions more debt than has been the case under National. 5 years on from the 2008 forecast, National was able to forecast a small surplus.

The second problem for Labour is that while David Parker might point to Labour's record last time, the party's proposals are to spend all of the next four Budgets, by hiking its new spending to $18.4 billion.

By contrast, National has committed only a small fraction of future Budgets. This will provide us with flexibility to deal with future shocks, speed up debt repayment or provide future tax reductions should there be room to do so.

Friday, 29 August 2014

What we've announed this week

I'm hearing on the doorstep that people want to know what it is that National will do if re-elected on 20 September. Here’s just some of what we announced this week:
  • $150 million boost for rural broadband – to extend the Rural Broadband Initiative and connect more rural businesses, homes and families.
  • Support for free trade agreements and open markets – to boost international trade and economic partnerships, lifting job-creating exports and creating higher incomes.
  • Introduce a new gold standard target for cancer treatment – speeding up cancer diagnosis to ensure faster treatment.
  • $50 million investment for pain reduction and prevention – more investment in primary care and prevention, $30 million to lift our record numbers of orthopaedic operations, and $14 million to deliver extra general surgeries.
  • $11 million for sign language over four years – to support sign language in schools and work with families of newly identified deaf children.
  • $40 million funding boost for Aged Care over four years – to increase rest home bed subsidies and boost dementia care across district health boards and communities.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Polling booths in Rimutaka for 2014

The Electoral Commission has released the polling booths in Rimutaka for the 2014 election. No major changes from 2011.

Advanced polling booths open on 3 September - check out the list to find the one nearest to you.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

$150m more for Rural Broadband

Sometimes people forget that Rimutaka is not just an urban electorate. Large parts of the electorate are rural - and they know that rural broadband is a game changer. It changes the way rural firms do business, the way our kids learn, and the way our health services deliver to us as patients.

Today National announced that if re-elected, we will invest an extra $150 million over three years to enhance and extend rural broadband.

Our existing investment of $300 million in rural broadband is already making a huge difference, and will result in over 250,000 households and businesses in the regions having access to faster broadband.

But National wants to see more homes and businesses benefit. Our plan will help communities enhance their connectivity with new technology, as well as extend mobile coverage in remote parts of New Zealand.

We want New Zealanders to have access to the best technology as they compete on the world stage.

Monday, 25 August 2014

$40 million funding boost for Aged Care

I've visited a number of rest homes, retirement villages and care units while out on the campaign trail. It's clear to me that aged residential care services play an important role in supporting older New Zealanders who can no longer live at home.

National has announced today a $40 million funding boost over the next four years for aged residential care and dementia services. This will bring New Zealand's annual investment in aged residential care to over $985 million and will ensure we continue to provide older New Zealanders with the best possible care in the future.

Over the next 20 years the number of New Zealanders over the age of 65 will double to 1.2 million people. We will increase rest home bed subsidies by 5% from 1 October – this equates to an extra $7.5 million for aged care this year and $10 million extra for subsequent years.

The remaining $2.5 million will be one-off funding towards implementation of dementia care pathways across district health board and communities. While it will be up to providers to decide how this extra money is spent, National expects many will choose to use it to increase staff wages. As our aging population grows, demand for aged care services will also grow · Despite tight financial times, which have seen many countries freezing or even reducing funding for health services, the National-led government has increased funding to aged residential care by over $240 million.

National is committed to ensuring older New Zealanders have the care, security, wellbeing, and respect they deserve.