Jordan Carter is a Wellington-based candidate on the Labour list.
This week we announced two policies I really like: a sound position on digital copyright, and some real changes to the policies that affect young people on the way from school to work.
The youth employment announcement was the more important (I’ll leave you to wonder why it got no coverage at all in the Dominion Post or the Herald on Friday…), and is part of what we are funding through the tax policy package we announced in July. It will make a real difference for teenagers stuck without work/training or education.
I haven’t seen anyone arguing that the youth skills and employment stuff is a bad idea — praise is pretty universal, other than the odd angry Tory who has frothed that Labour is somehow stealing their policies. Why a governing party would think an opposition was stealing its policy when said government doesn’t have any policy (just rhetoric) is beyond me, but we’ll let that rest for now too.
These join earlier policy announcements on the cost of living (tax free zone and GST off fresh fruit and veg) and the land sales initiatives we announced last year, to start to give a flavour of where Labour is heading with policy in this year’s election:
• focusing on the issues that will make a real difference to people in building their futures here
• tackling really hard and big choices in the interests of New Zealand’s development
• arguing that in tough economic times, we have to respond by investing in the things that will leave us ready to grow when times improve
They’re summed up with the theme that Phil Goff launched our tax policy with: Own Our Future.
That isn’t a slogan plucked from the air. It is a simple distillation about what many of us Kiwis want to see for the country: a place where we control our own destiny, and where the big picture of economic and social development is happening in our interests, not in the interests of landlords who live somewhere else and to whom we are all mere economic units.
That sense of ownership, of control, of self-determination, is critical to our sense of dignity and self-worth, actually, and it tugs deep at the heartstrings of most New Zealanders. People know that we’re on the edge a bit, and that carrying on down the track of not saving enough, of selling ourselves out to the highest bidder, isn’t the way to build a future here.
I can’t remember if I have quoted him before, but there’s a snippet from Allen Curnow (a Kiwi poet, for those who don’t know) from his 1943 sonnet “The Skeleton of the Great Moa in the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch” that sums this feeling up:
Not I, some child, born in a marvellous year
Will learn the trick of standing upright here.
Curnow was lamenting the Moa’s inability to adapt to the arrival of people on these islands of ours.
I’m not lamenting anything: I’m demanding something — that we make that dream of standing on our own two feet in the world something real, something tangible. That we have a government that believes in it, rather than one which believes it is impossible.