Fairer country the aim

CLARE CURRAN
Last updated 11:39 18/07/2014

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OPINION: Labour is passionate about building a better New Zealand. We want a fair New Zealand, and a successful New Zealand. We want a fair sharing of wealth, respect for human rights, and educated and healthy citizens.

The Labour Party celebrates 100 years of service to New Zealand in 2016. During that century, Labour has initiated most of the important social and economic changes that have made our democracy the envy of other countries.

In 1916, life was not easy, but there was a spirit and the belief that opportunities to get ahead were within reach.

Today, things are tough for many but there is a sense of optimism that there is a better way forward where opportunity and prosperity are more evenly shared, and hard work is more fairly rewarded.

But the tough times are real. The gap between rich and poor is widening. Gaps are widening between our cities and our regions. House prices in Southland have dropped, while in Auckland and in Christchurch prices are spiralling out of control. Overall, the rate of home ownership is the lowest it has been in 50 years. House prices may be lower down south but too much of our housing is substandard.

Too many people who own their own home are just battling to pay the mortgage and basic bills.

The gaps in income are now holding back growth. We will all do better as a nation if we get back to a broader balance.

The next Labour government has risen to the challenge, developing thoughtful, balanced policies focused on work, families and homes to lead our great country to a fairer and more prosperous society.

We will develop an economy built on job-rich, sustainable exports. One example is forest processing, to add value to our trees instead of sending raw logs overseas. High-value manufactured exports and jobs in the digital economy will build the wealth of our nation. That's why we've just announced 1200 digital apprenticeships and establish a clearer pathway for ICT careers for people to gain a nationally recognised diploma or certificate qualification in the information technology field. These are the jobs of the future.

Our Labour policies are aimed at lifting New Zealand, to make it a fairer more equal place, where we can all strive for success. That's what I am here for, and that is what Labour is here for too.

Clare Curran is MP for Dunedin South.

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- The Southland Times

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