Jacinda Ardern leads the Labour party into the 2017 election. Her new leadership may come with some changes to the below policies and this article will be updated as they are announced. This election Labour is backing “the Kiwi dream.”
“It’s a home to call our own. Opportunities for everyone’s kids to succeed, no matter where they live. Security and freedom to make our own choices. Pride in our independence and a passion for our environment. That’s the New Zealand we want and deserve.”
Labour and the Greens have announced a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to change the Government this election.
Labour has promised to resume payments to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. This will mean, they claim, that they can afford to leave the retirement age at 65.
Labour will encourage the development of more housing that meets lifetime design standards for older people thereby better enabling seniors to age in place, including a review of building standards. They also will Investigate support for Local Councils to build or upgrade their council housing stock for older people such as the provision of low-interest loans.
Labour will stop National’s state house sell off and commit to substantially increasing the number of state houses. They will make Housing New Zealand a public service with one job – a focus on housing people in need which will Housing New Zealand more money to invest in housing families and fixing up cold, damp state homes. Also, Labour will restore Housing New Zealand’s focus on the needs of tenants.
Their Healthy Homes Guarantee will require all rentals to meet standards of insulation, heating, ventilation and weather-tightness. This will ensure those homes are fit to live in. Labour will fund 600,000 grants of up to $2,000 per dwelling towards the cost of upgrading insulation and heating. The grants will pay for up to half the cost of insulation upgrades and double glazing that meet or exceed the current building code, or of the cost to install a clean, fixed form of heating. This will be funded by closing the $150m a year speculators’ tax loophole.
The other half of the equation is the cost of staying warm. The cost of household heating has risen by 30 per cent since 2008. Many families cannot afford to keep heaters on and are forced to live in temperatures well below international health guidelines.
Labour will also help with the cost of heating in winter by giving up to $450 a year for a single person and $700 a year for a couple or a person with dependent children, paid in monthly payments from May to September. For a retired couple or parent, this will mean they receive an extra $140 a month on top of their superannuation or benefit payments during winter. As with general superannuation and benefit payments, the Winter Energy Payment will not be limited to a specific class of expenditure. This will ensure people who live in them don’t get sick.
Labour will invest $8 billion in improving the health system. This will ensure that all New Zealanders get the same standard of care no matter where in the country they live. They will streamline cancer care in New Zealand by establishing a National Cancer Agency.
Labour will also make it easier for those in our community with mental health problems to get the help they need by increasing resources for frontline health workers. Under Labour’s fresh approach to mental health services, we will establish a two-year pilot programme of primary mental health teams at eight sites across the country to work with GPs, PHOs, DHBs, and mental health NGOs. These sites will be selected to meet high needs populations, including Christchurch, which has seen a surge in mental health needs. The programme is expected to help nearly 40,000 people get the assistance they need for each year of the pilot. This will be an investment of $43m over two years, funded through Labour’s commitment to reversing National’s $1.7b of health cuts.
Overall, Labour is looking to reduce immigration. They will ensure that businesses are able to get genuinely skilled migrants when they need them. This will include introducing an Exceptional Skills Visa for highly skilled or talented people and introducing a KiwiBuild Visa for residential construction firms who train a local when they hire a worker from overseas. Labout will strengthen the Labour Market Test for work visas so they are not being used for jobs Kiwis can do, and make our skills shortage lists more regional so migrants coming in under them can only live and work in areas where there is a genuine skills shortage.
Labour wishes to establish the Office of the Aged Care Commissioner and a position of Aged Care Commissioner. They will require the Office of the Aged Care Commissioner as part of its initial work programme to investigate the effectiveness of complaints processes in residential care facilities.
Labour wants to review interRAI governance and implementation of mandatory assessments. They will investigate options for extending interRAI to home care services. Labour will also review and investigate updating the aged care standards to set a nationally consistent baseline.
A significant financial anomaly for many of New Zealand’s elderly will be fixed by a Labour Bill says Labour’s Senior Citizens spokesperson Ruth Dyson. The Bill aims to fix the anomaly around ‘occupation rights agreements’ which did not exist when the legislation was first introduced in 1973 in the rates rebate scheme for older New Zealanders living in retirement homes.
Almost half of New Zealand’s current retirement home residents are dependent on superannuation so they would be eligible to apply for a rebate.