10 Sep 2017

Labour to target mental health and housing crisis early

6:55 pm on 10 September 2017

Jacinda Ardern has outlined her priorities for the first 100 days of a Labour-led government, putting housing and education at the top of her list.

Jacinda Ardern (centre) and Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis (left) speaking to the media after the rally.

Jacinda Ardern (centre) and Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis (left) speaking to the media after the rally. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

The Labour leader laid out the party's plans to a rapturous crowd of some 1500 supporters at the St James theatre in Wellington on Sunday.

She put a timeline on the party's pledge to crack down on foreign non-resident house-buyers.

"Too many families are missing out on buying homes. So we'll introduce that law to ban overseas speculators from buying existing homes and we'll do it by Christmas."

Labour would also immediately stop the sale of state houses and prioritise new heating standards for rental homes.

Ms Ardern was introduced to the rally by a makeshift band, boasting Wellington musicians from Fat Freddy's Drop, the Phoenix Foundation and the Black Seeds.

The group dubbed themselves "Stardust," a reference to a comment by National leader Bill English during the Stuff Leaders Debate.

Ms Ardern said a Labour-led government would make the first year of tertiary education free and lift allowances by $50 a week from the beginning of next year.

"Everybody should be able to get the education they need and deserve. Why? Because education is a public good."

Jacinda Ardern spoke to a crowd of around 1500 supporters at the St James theatre in Wellington.

A crowd of around 1500 Labour supporters attended the rally at the St James theatre in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

Labour also plans to scrap National's tax cuts and replace it with its own families package from 1 July.

That would boost Working for Families payments, extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks and give beneficiaries and superannuitants $140 a week during winter to help cover power bills.

It would also introduce a weekly $60 payment for the first year of a child's life after paid parental leave ends.

Ms Ardern said Labour would also set up two major inquiries in its first 100 days; one would look into mental health and the other into the historical abuse of children in state care.

Jacinda Ardern surrounded by supporters.

Jacinda Ardern surrounded by supporters. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

In response, National leader Bill English said many New Zealanders would still be in the dark about what a Labour-led government would do.

"They've left out the things they seem to not want New Zealanders to know about."

Mr English accused Labour of hiding their plan to set up a working group on how to change the tax system.

Ms Ardern did not mention the group in her speech to supporters, but it is included in Labour's list of priorities on its website.

"I speak about it most days, so I suspect most people knew that work would be undertaken," she told reporters.

She said while the group would be set up early on, she didn't expect it to report back with recommendations for at least a year.

Labour's 100 Day Plan in full

  • Make the first year of tertiary education or training fees free from 1 January, 2018
  • Increase student allowances and living cost loans by $50 a week from 1 January, 2018
  • Pass the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, requiring all rentals to be warm and dry
  • Ban overseas speculators from buying existing houses
  • Issue an instruction to Housing New Zealand to stop the state house sell-off
  • Begin work to establish the Affordable Housing Authority and begin the KiwiBuild programme
  • Legislate to pass the Families Package, including the Winter Fuel Payment, Best Start and increases to Paid Parental Leave, to take effect from 1 July 2018
  • Set up a Ministerial Inquiry in order to fix our mental health crisis
  • Introduce legislation to make medicinal cannabis available for people with terminal illnesses or in chronic pain
  • Resume contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to help safeguard the provision of universal superannuation at age 65
  • Introduce legislation to set a child poverty reduction target and to change the Public Finance Act so the Budget reports progress on reducing child poverty
  • Increase the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour, to take effect from 1 April 2018, and introduce legislation to improve fairness in the workplace
  • Establish the Tax Working Group
  • Establish the Pike River Recovery Agency and assign a responsible Minister
  • Set up an inquiry into the abuse of children in state care
  • Hold a Clean Waters Summit on cleaning up our rivers and lakes
  • Set the zero carbon emissions goal and begin setting up the independent Climate Commission

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