VIEW: Labour’s legacy and what’s at stake

In my last column before the election, I want to leave you with three important thoughts:

1. Vote early — booths open Monday, October 2 so don’t wait until the last minute on election day on October 14. Get in early so you can relax knowing the job’s done.

2. Regardless of what other parties promise, remember it’s Labour who builds hospitals. And when it comes to promises, it was National who promised not to raise GST — then increased it from 12.5% to 15% in 2010 once elected into government.

3. Any party vote other than for Labour is likely to lead to a National-Act coalition.

With such a right-wing government in that scenario, almost all of the targeted support for low and middle-income New Zealanders introduced by this Labour government would be lost if Act makes good on its promises to veto them.

That’s not only the winter energy payment that keeps our seniors and families warm over the winter months here in Otago, but also fair pay agreements, minimum wage rises, health reforms, apprenticeships, healthy school lunches for our children and half-price bus fares.

We have also just announced two significant additional targeted supports if Labour is re-elected in October — and we need your votes to make that happen.

The first is removing GST from fresh and frozen fruit and veges so that all New Zealand households can access healthy food despite the cost-of-living challenges.

The second is that Labour will introduce four weeks paid partner’s leave which can be taken concurrently or consecutively with primary carer’s leave. This leave is in addition to the current statutory entitlement of two weeks’ unpaid leave and will be paid for by the government.

As you consider which way to cast your party vote, remember that since 2017:

 - Labour introduced the Best Start Payment to help families with costs.

 - Labour’s boosts to Working for Families, along with increases to the family tax credit, mean more families are eligible for and are receiving the support they deserve.

 - When Labour came into government in 2017, New Zealand’s 18 weeks of paid parental leave was one of the lowest in the OECD. Since then, Labour has extended this to 26 weeks.

 - Labour has increased payments for people on the maximum parental leave entitlement by more than $170 a week.

 - In this year’s Budget, paid parental leave entitlements increased from July 1, putting an additional $51 a week into the pockets of new parents or an additional $1327 for those taking the full 26 weeks of parental leave.

 - From mid-2024, new parents will also receive a 3% government contribution to their KiwiSaver while on paid parental leave, provided they continue their KiwiSaver contributions.