Speech - Appropriation Debate

The Fundamental purpose of his Government, John Key promised before the election would be to close the wage gap with Australia.

This would be achieved by 2025.

He has singularly failed to deliver any progress towards that objective in his first two years in office. National hasn’t moved towards closing the gaps, they’ve got worse.

It was just empty election rhetoric, and more and more New Zealanders are increasingly feeling that he hasn’t delivered on his promises to them.

National in fact has no plan to deliver a stronger economy for Kiwi wage and salary earners.

Mr Key and Mr English won’t set benchmarks by which their progress can be measured, but the evidence is there that things are getting much worse, not better.

Comparing average weekly earnings, the wage gap has blown out even further, with Australian workers increasing the gap by more than $50 since National was elected.

Mr Brownlee and Mr Key denied that, but then tabled figures in Parliament that even after their massaging to get the most favourable result, showed Kiwi workers falling behind by around $23 a week.

The worst thing was the dishonesty around trying to disguise it.

The Dominion Post “Wallies of the Week” were Gerry Brownlee and John Key. Let me quote that the paper says: Wally of the Week goes to “Gerry Brownlee for so brazenly claiming that the wage gap with Australia has shrunk under National when by any measure it has grown, and Prime Minister John Key for thinking anyone would be fooled by his inept attempt to manipulate the statistics to support his minister.”

And sadly, the news gets worse.

The wage gap under the statistics tabled by John Key were accelerating and the tabled figures from Statistics New Zealand show its just getting worse.

Salary and wage rates, including overtime, grew by 1.6% in the year to June 2010, below the rate of inflation.

It confirms what every wage and salary earner knows when they go through the supermarket check out – it’s getting harder to make ends meet.

As Business Day pointed out today, average wages are going up at a snail’s pace and much less than half the rate of wage increases under Labour two years ago.

- If you’re in the top 5% income bracket you’ll be picking up your share of the $5 billion National has given the highest earners, more than a third of the money available and you’ll be fine – paying less tax than Australian high earners.

- If you’re a middle or lower income earner, for many you’ll be paying more income tax than your Aussie counterpart and 50% more on consumption taxes. People on or under the average wage will be worse off as will a lot of middle income earners.

And because wage and salary earners are worse off, so too are the people who rely on their spending.

Headline in Wellington today that its city centre is taking on a vacant look with more than 19 empty shops as people have less to spend.

Where is the recovery National promised and why isn’t the international recovery being reflected in the pockets and living standards of most Kiwis.

Unemployment is down in Australia, the dole figures in New Zealand are up in the last month, and the HLFS figures this Thursday are predicted to show higher unemployment.

More Kiwis out of work.
More Kiwis leaving for Australia.
Australia is worried that its population is growing too fast.
We are on the edge of our population actually declining.

So where is the plan for recovery. Here it is on National’s webpage today.

The heading is Building the Recovery.
But the page is blank.
There are no ideas.
There is no new thinking.
There is no policy.

Pushing GST up by 20% isn’t a policy for growth in incomes and jobs. It just makes it harder for the ordinary New Zealander. They promised they wouldn’t increase it. They did and New Zealanders will suffer because of it, along with higher ACC, higher costs and taxes because of their inept version of an Emissions Trading Scheme - $110 billion debt dumped on the tax payer, not the polluter.

Mining in our National Parks and protected areas wasn’t a policy, though John Key and Gerry Brownlee thought it was.

Six months wasted on a policy that any New Zealander could have told them wasn’t sensible environmentally or economically.

The Job Summit was a failure and created hardly any new jobs.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what New Zealand actually needs and Labour has set it out clearly in its plan.

- We need an upskilled workforce, more people in apprenticeships, more in tertiary education instead of being locked out of it, a higher level of achievement starting at early childhood by promoting success at that level, not cutting funding.

- More savings by boosting Kiwisaver and the Cullen super fund, not cutting them. More money to invest in owning and controlling our own future, not selling it out to overseas control.

- More investment in the smart economy, not cutting R & D tax credits and the Fast Forward fund. Promoting a clean tech economy, the fastest growing economic area in the world, not being locked in the past.

- A reformed monetary policy to promote manufacturers and exporters, rather than rising interest rates and exchange rates that destroy our competitive advantage.

This National Government has failed to deliver, failed to keep its promises and when the spin is peeled back and smiling and waving is no longer enough, they will be chucked out.