Thursday, July 18, 2024

The difference between Labour and National

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National Party leader Christopher Luxon, left, with deputy leader Nicola Willis. Times file photo Wayne Martin
  • By Christopher Luxon, Leader of the Opposition and MP for Botany

A stark difference between Labour and National was highlighted on Sunday when National announced a $500 million fund for state highway and local road repairs, and Labour announced a campaign slogan.

National has, for months now, been rolling out practical policies that will improve New Zealanders’ daily lives if we lead the government after the general election.

Underpinning our approach is a commitment to run a strong, growing economy.

With good economic management, a National Government will bring down inflation and interest rates, deliver higher wages, provide tax relief and be able to afford the improved health and education that New Zealanders expect.

We’re also going to take Labour’s wasteful spending and re-purpose it to achieve the outcomes New Zealanders want.

It’s not only about money – National ministers will be accountable for results in their portfolios. That would be a novel idea for Labour.

Everywhere I go in New Zealand, I’m hearing of people struggling with the cost of living, and with services that either aren’t there when they need them, or not working as well as they should.

Take the roading network. In Auckland alone there is a backlog of 1000km of road repairs needed, with Auckland Transport estimating it will take up to 10 years to clear.

Potholes are a safety risk and last year there were more than 50,000 waiting for repair on state highways.

So National will start a Pothole Repair Fund with an additional $500m over three years allocated to local authorities and the New Zealand Transport Agency to repair potholes and other damage on local roads and state highways.

We’ll also halve the response time from 48 hours to 24, and we’ll require NZTA to renew at least 2 per cent of the entire network each year – which is more than double the current rate.

The money will come from other part of the land transport programme, including savings from stopping Labour’s wasteful spending on activities that slow down traffic – like speed bumps, and the “Road to Zero” campaign.

National respects taxpayers. We will make public money work for all of us, and we’ll put it where it will do the most good.

National’s Family Boost policy is another example of re-prioritising spending so it helps people in practical ways.

We will take some of the $1.7 billion that Labour is spending on contractors and consultants, to give families a tax rebate on their early childhood education expenses, up to a maximum of $75 per week, paid directly into parents’ bank accounts.

All families earning up to $180,000 with childcare costs are eligible.

However, to ensure support goes to families who need it most, the maximum weekly rebate will gradually reduce for families earning over $140,000.

For example, two parents earning $125,000 combined, who are spending $300 a week on childcare would receive a weekly rebate of $75, while two parents earning $160,000 combined, and spending $330 per week on childcare would receive a weekly rebate of $37.50.

A single parent earning $90,000 and spending $350 per week on childcare would receive a weekly rebate of $75.

In addition to adjusting tax brackets for inflation, these policies will make a real difference to families.

National is committed to practical and helpful initiatives to make life a bit easier.

We’ll be doing it in a financially responsible way, while growing the economy and getting this country back on track.

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