Laying groundwork for higher taxes

The Labour and Green parties are preparing to crank up their respective campaigns this year to attract more members and supporters.

What is clear from speeches given yesterday by Labour leader David Shearer and Green co-leader Metiria Turei, laying out groundwork for the year ahead, is that higher taxes and a more hands-on government will be the result for New Zealanders from 2014 if the left wing gains power.

In response, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said the Opposition had six weeks over summer to think about new policy, and Labour came up with ''precisely nothing''.

Mr Shearer headed one of his speech paragraphs ''New era - Hands-on Government'', to leave no doubt where Labour sees its future.

Introducing a capital gains tax remained a priority as did putting 100,000 families into new homes. In response to remarks made on Friday about new apprentices by Prime Minister John Key, Mr Shearer said he had been serious about youth unemployment from the day he was elected leader.

Labour would pay employers the equivalent of the dole to take on apprentices and would back Kiwi businesses to get their slice of the $30 billion dollars the Government contracted out every year. But Labour would require those businesses to take on apprentices and trainees in return.

The Greens' first priority this year was to stop the sale of the state-owned energy companies and the party was putting one final push into collecting enough signatures to force a citizens initiated referendum.

Another priority was the party's campaign to get the CBD rail link in Auckland.''

In 2013, we will campaign for the survival of our public schools. Make no mistake, our schools have never felt so unsupported, so threatened as they do under this Government and this minister [Hekia Parata]. If the Government keeps attacking schools and kids, they've got a fight on their hands,'' she said.

Mrs Turei, and the Greens, have adopted a President Barack Obama campaign team approach by launching grass roots ''I'm in - for the future campaign'' through the party's website.''

Building a modern on the ground campaign movement is a logical next step in the development of the Green Party. This step is about building a campaign machine that more effectively puts our modern political thought into action.''

The National Party might have deep pockets, but the Greens aimed to combat that with people active on the ground, she said. The Government knew the 2014 election would be close so it was digging in now to deliver as many hard-line policies as possible over the next two years.''

We can't wait until the 2014 election to stop bad change occurring,'' she said.

For his part, Mr Shearer called on supporters to be part of his ''team'' and play a part in the next government.''

I want each of you to take the Labour message out to your neighbours, your co-workers, your congregation and your friends.''

A tide for change was building, he said. He promised a country where its people thrived to be leaders, not followers, and a country where the government was hands-on and backed its people.

Mr English said Mr Shearer's speech yesterday was full of last year's slogans and no new policy.''

He says that he wants to be hands-on, and yet opposes every hands-on move National is making to encourage investment and growth. On top of that, Labour still hasn't apologised for their wasteful policies the last time they got their hands on the economy.''

To make it worse, at the same time Labour's coalition partners - the Greens - were up in Auckland busy working out how to stop everything they did not like, including everything to do with growth and jobs, Mr English said.

''A very poor effort to start the year from the Opposition.''

Policy summaries

• Hands-on government
• 100,000 families into new homes
• Capital Gains Tax
• Champion a living wage
• Lift the age of eligibility for universal superannuation

• Home for Life plan, progressive ownership scheme
• Stop sale of state-owned assets
• Get CBD rail link in Auckland built
• Launch ''I'm in - for the future campaign''
• Support survival of public schools

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