ELECTION 2017: The policies at a glance

ELECTION 2017: Who are you going to vote for on Saturday? Here's a summary of the political parties' policies on important issues.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

• HEALTH

National
An additional 600,000 lower-income New Zealanders will have access to $18 doctor visits under National. Community Services Card access will be expanded to an additional 350,000 New Zealanders with low incomes and high housing costs.

Labour
From  July 1, 2018, Labour will lower the cost of GP visits by $10; provide increasing government funding for all practices that lower their fees by $10; lowering the average non-VLCA fee from $42 to $32 and the maximum fee from $69 to $59; increasing funding for GP training places, taking the intake to 300 per year.

Act
Maintain the health budget at per capita levels. The health budget will not be cut. Reform the DHB system, reducing the number of health districts from 20 down to five, and ensure  board members are appointed for their expertise and experience, rather than elected to make political points; raise awareness of mental health services.

Maori Party
Introduce free GP visits and dental care (including after hours and weekends) for those under 18 years of age; introduce free annual medical and dental visits for over 55s; increase  the number of mobile health clinics in rural communities; establish a moratorium on new liquor outlets and gaming machines in the community; remove GST  from fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and milk.

New Zealand First
NZ First does not want to undertake whole-system reform and add to the ``structural fatigue'' caused by successive government overhauls. The current system needs some refinements to ensure interoperability and a focus on patient needs. The ultimate aim must be to provide citizens with certainty about their healthcare and ensure timely access to quality services.

Green Party
Focus especially on increasing investment in services, based on evidence, aimed at preventing illness and on community-based treatment and support services. Adjust the funding formula for primary care (general practice) to ensure there is no financial barrier to people accessing the care they need.

TOP
TOP proposes to replicate the independent health sector funder model of Pharmac across the health system. Health funding would go where there was the greatest health benefit - which is usually prevention and primary care. As a result of this reform, funding for prevention and primary care would rise over time.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

• IMMIGRATION

National
National has introduced remuneration bands to help determine skill levels; a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled visa holders, after which a minimum stand-down period will apply before they are eligible for another lower-skilled visa; and requirements for partners and children of lower-skilled visa-holders to meet visa conditions in their own right.

Labour
Ensure 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. Strengthen the labour market test for work visas so they are not being used for jobs Kiwis can do, and make the 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.

Act
Continue to be a pro-immigration party, while trimming back overly generous entitlements such as pensions after only 10 years' residency; maintain New Zealand's values of free speech, free assembly, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, property rights and the rule of law as non-negotiable conditions all immigrants must accept; new citizens should be required to explicitly sign up to these values, as required in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom; charge international school fees to parents who cannot show they were a tax resident for one of the last three years.

Maori Party
Nothing specified.

New Zealand First
Make sure  Kiwi workers are at the front of the job queue; ensure  immigration policy is based on New Zealand's interests and the main focus is on meeting critical skills gaps; ensure family reunion members are strictly controlled and capped and there is fairness across all nationalities; ensure  there is effective labour market testing to ensure New Zealanders have first call on New Zealand jobs; introduce a cap on the number of older immigrants because of the impact on health and other services.

Green Party
Treat all migrants with dignity, compassion and respect in accordance with international conventions on human rights; ensure new immigrants are welcomed and included in Aotearoa New Zealand society; tangata whenua have a partnership role in determining Aotearoa New Zealand's immigration policy; effects of population growth on the environment, economy and infrastructure need to be actively managed and planned for.

TOP 
Focus on skilled people looking for a more liberal and tolerant society in the wake of Brexit, US President Donald Trump and the march of ugly nationalism engulfing Europe. New Zealand must seize the opportunity to make the country the place where talent wants to live. Talent creates jobs and incomes for New Zealanders.

Photo: ODT
Photo: ODT

•TRADE

National
National  will seek to launch high-quality and comprehensive free trade agreement negotiations with the European Union, the United Kingdom (following Brexit), Sri Lanka, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay (MERCOSUR). It will also seek to complete negotiations with  the Trans Pacific Partnership 11, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru (The Pacific Alliance); Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries; and upgrade existing free trade agreements with China, Singapore, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Labour
Expand New Zealand's export markets through trade agreements; preserve regulatory sovereignty, including the right to ban foreign buyers of New Zealand homes and farmland; diversify the export base; support exporters to add value to exports.

Act
Maintain and strengthen traditional alliances, while leading the world with relationships in Asia. Alliances, such as the Five Eyes and the Commonwealth, are more important than ever and Act will continue to support these alliances. Aid should be focused and directed into the South Pacific. Continue to support opening up trade through bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, as the basis of New Zealand's prosperity.

Maori Party
Nothing specified.

New Zealand First
Give priority to New Zealand industries and communities in setting any programme on tariffs; future tariff removal will be consistent with the policies and progress of our trading partners; encourage businesses to engage in import substitution. Support and develop the ``buy New Zealand-made'' campaign and, where practicable, place "buy New Zealand'' purchasing requirements on taxpayer and ratepayer-owned businesses and State Owned Enterprises.

Green Party
All international treaties must be voted on in Parliament before being signed, must give full effect to our Treaty of Waitangi obligations, and must put the rights of peoples and governments before those of multinational company investors; uphold international labour and environmental agreements through an International Trading Organisation and regional trading agreements to replace the WTO.

TOP
Nothing specified.

Photo: ODT
Photo: ODT

• CONSERVATION

National
National will more than double the amount of funding available through the Department of Conservation Community Fund, from $4.6 million to $10 million a year. The new community funding is on top of the additional $4 million a year Doc will receive as a result of National introducing additional charges for international tourists using our Great Walks.

Labour
Establish a $75 million annual Tourism and Conservation Infrastructure Fund to pay for projects that will improve the experience of visitors to New Zealand and enhance the natural environment. The $75 million a year will come from a $25 per visit levy on international visitors who are not citizens or residents of New Zealand.

Act
Introduce better water management, where water rights are tradeable, giving owners greater incentives to conserve water and oppose pollution of it; sell Landcorp, an environmentally harmful Government activity, and put the proceeds into a Sanctuary Trust for applicants who wish to operate inland sanctuaries for native wildlife; introduce pricing of road use to reduce congestion and emissions, following the examples set in London, Singapore and Stockholm.

Maori Party
Legislate to protect freshwater and give it the status of taonga; establish a Minister for Freshwater to give urgent priority to addressing freshwater protection, rights and interests; set up an annual Te Mana o Te Wai funding to support community projects, such as planting riparian buffers and establish wetlands; make the freshwater standard "drinkable''; support a levy on all tourists entering Aotearoa to improve infrastructure and impacts on the environment.

New Zealand  First
Enhance and protect the rights of all New Zealanders to access their cultural heritage sites and clarify and amend legislation associated with protecting these heritage sites, buildings, and objects; encourage local government use of the community wage scheme for conservation and weed and pest control activities and for environmental activities including the beautification and maintenance of waterways, beaches, parks and roadsides and measures to clean up pollution.

Green Party
Implement a tourism levy of a $20 increase on existing border charges for international visitors only. This new revenue will be split 75:25 between conservation and tourism. The levy will generate $58 million in its first year,  with revenue rising with tourist numbers to  more than $1.5 billion by 2050.

TOP
TOP will impose a $20 levy on all tourists entering the country. The revenue will be used to improve local infrastructure and placed in an independently managed fund that can be invested with partners to get the best biodiversity return.

 

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

•TRANSPORT 

National
Deliver the $10.5 billion next generation of Roads of National Significance; accelerate regional roading projects that are important for regional development and growth faster than otherwise planned; complete a $600 million investment in fixing the worst 90 black spots around the country; continue to invest at record levels in public transport, including an additional $267 million investment in commuter rail in Auckland and Wellington; grow air links with other countries to bring on more flights and cheaper airfares.

Labour
Create a passenger rail service linking Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga and, if justified by demand, upgrade it in stages to a rapid rail network throughout the Golden Triangle; build light rail from the CBD to Auckland Airport as  part of a new light rail network to be built over the next decade with routes to the central suburbs, the airport, and West Auckland, which will later be extended to the North Shore; commit an additional $100 million from the National Land Transport Fund in capital investment to Greater Christchurch multi-modal public transport, including commuter rail from Rolleston to the CBD as a first step.

Act
Encourage private sector investment in road construction, both through direct ownership and partnerships with central and local government; reduce or abandon petrol tax and introduce road pricing on new and existing roads, congestion charging, peak time charges and preferential lanes; encourage ride-sharing and car-sharing to further reduce congestion; review regulation to ensure the viability of autonomous vehicles.

Maori Party
Nothing specified.

New Zealand  First
Not allow our roads to be privatised or corporatised; see the whole road network is properly maintained so farmers will be able to get their produce to the ports or processing plants on well-maintained roads and regional New Zealand does not lose out in favour of the insatiable demands of the main centres; balance the roading needs of the main centres with the need to reduce the ever-growing dependence on the motorcar.

Green Party
Free buses and trains, all the time, for everyone under the age of 19, with a new Youth Green Card;  the Student Green Card will provide free off-peak buses and trains for all tertiary students and apprentices; free off-peak buses and trains for people living with a disability; continuing the SuperGold Card for older people.

TOP
Nothing specified. 

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
• EMPLOYMENT

National
National will invest $72 million over the next four years to support beneficiaries under 25 years of age by  guaranteeing work experience or training for those who have been on a jobseekers benefit for six months or longer, and financial management training to help them develop financial responsibility; providing rehabilitation services if drug use is identified as a barrier to employment; ensuring all young people under 25 who are on a jobseekers benefit receive intensive one-on-one case management to get a job.

Labour
Labour's workplace relations package includes increasing the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour; replacing the current National Government's "fire at will'' law with fair trial periods that provide both protection against unjustified dismissal and a simple, fair, and fast referee service; introducing Fair Pay Agreements that set fair, basic employment conditions across an industry based on the employment standards that apply in that industry; promoting the living wage by paying it to all workers in the core public service, and extending it to contractors over time; doubling the number of Labour Inspectors.

Act
Nothing specified.

Maori Party
The  Maori Party will  introduce a living wage for all workers; make a ``cost of living'' adjustment to all work-related benefits; double the existing Maori and Pacific trade training and cadetships; provide grants to support Maori businesses; introduce a 12-month job experience scheme for unemployed youth and pay a Youth Allowance; establish 1000 employment-focused navigators to connect Maori and Pacific Island jobseekers with employers and also provide pastoral care and support.

New Zealand First
New Zealand First will make it a priority to review all industrial relations law to ensure it is consistent with an environment based on fairness, flexibility, and neutrality between the parties. Employment of New Zealanders wishing to work is our first priority. New Zealand First will give priority to New Zealand jobs  for New Zealand workers with a tight immigration policy.

Green Party
The Green Party will introduce pay transparency, by requiring employers to collect data on what they pay men and women; make public sector chief executives responsible for achieving equal pay for employees of core government departments; amend the equal pay laws to include agreed principles and an onus on employers to prove they are paying women fairly; fund an expert body to assist women so all pay equity claims are progressed efficiently; double the funding for the Ministry for Women to get a better deal for women; fund social marketing and education aimed at eliminating bias in employment; ensure the Minister for Women sits in Cabinet, not outside it, and ensure gender balance among Green Party ministers.

TOP
Nothing specified. 

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
• FIRST HOME 

National
Recent changes mean a couple will be eligible for an extra $10,000 of Government HomeStart Grants, taking the grants to $20,000 for an existing home or $30,000 for a new build. The additional grants mean there is funding to help a further 80,000 people into their first home over the next four years, on top of the 31,000 people the scheme has already helped.

Labour
Building homes people can afford to buy, and restoring the Kiwi dream of owning your own place through the KiwiBuild programme and the Affordable House Authority; A three-point plan to crack down on speculators by banning offshore speculators from buying houses, taxing speculators who flip a house within five years, and ending the speculators' tax loophole; ensuring homes are healthy to live in and building state houses for families in need.

Act
Remove New Zealand's large cities from the Resource Management Act, and create separate urban development legislation, prioritising land supply and reducing red tape on developers; incentivise councils to consent more land for development and build more infrastructure, by sharing a portion of GST levied on construction; replacing council building inspections and compliance with a mandatory private insurance regime for buildings.

Maori Party
Create a Minister for Maori and Pacific Housing to address the huge challenges whanau/fanau/ainga face; homelessness to home ownership can be prioritised; develop a National Housing Strategy taking into account the specific rights and interests of Maori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi; establish a Housing Sector Committee within the first three months of the next Parliament to co-design a 25-year government-enabled housing strategy that addresses the entire housing crisis.

New Zealand  First
Provide government assistance for first-home buyers. Sell residential sections under long-term agreements for sale and purchase (up to 25 years) to first-home buyers on a cost recovery basis, so first-home buyers will have access to sections that are affordable, reducing the overall initial capital cost of a new home by about one-third. Interest at 2% p.a. for at least five years, then rising to lowest market rates.

Green Party
The Green Party will make 10,000 new homes over 10 years available to people who cannot afford a deposit or a normal commercial mortgage, through progressive ownership rent-to-buy arrangements. Progressive home owners will pay a weekly payment of no more than 30% of their income.

TOP
TOP's tax reform will eventually restore housing affordability. However, this will be done slowly to avoid an economic crash akin to that seen overseas. Renting needs to be a viable option for the generation of young people who have been priced out of home ownership.

 

 

Comments

There should be some honourable mentions of the other Political Parties policies who aren't mentioned here (I presume for being too small).

 

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