The contrast between National and Labour could hardly have been greater this week.
Speeches by ministers at the National Party conference outlined policies for economic growth and emphasised the need to spend public funds carefully.
Then Labour promotes Private Members’ Bills to extend Paid Parental Leave, increase the minimum wage and Mondayise holidays for Waitangi and Anzac Days should they fall on the weekend.
National’s policies acknowledge the difficult international economic climate and that we have to earn before we can spend.
Labour’s show its priority is spending and it has no idea about earning.
The Mondayising of Waitangi and Anzac Days is the least expensive of the measures Labour is promoting. It would be needed only once every seven years and businesses cope with the holidays every other year.
I don’t have strong feelings about whether or not Waitangi Day is Mondayised, but I do agree with the RSA on Anzac Day:
The RSA policy has always been to preserve the special nature of Anzac Day. The National Executive Committee of the RSA has given this issue very serious consideration and we do not support this legislative change,” says National President Don McIver.
“We would always want to see Anzac Day commemorations fall on 25 April and not on the nearest week day and we understand the proposed bill will preserve that arrangement.”
“However, we are seriously concerned that to allow a holiday long weekend when Anzac Day falls within a weekend will take the focus away from our most solemn day of commemoration in memory of the sacrifice of New Zealanders for their nation and, instead, turn attention towards the holiday itself.”
“We are concerned that this will trivialise the true intent of this very special day of national commemoration.”
Anzac Day isn’t a celebration but a commemoration. If it falls on a week day people have had a day off to remember the sacrifices of the people who fought for peace, it’s not supposed to be just another holiday.
No-one disputes the demands new babies place on families and the importance of parent-child bonding. But I have yet to see a good argument why paid parental leave should be publicly funded, especially when not only isn’t it means tested but it also pays more to wealthy earners than poorer ones.
As for increasing the minimum wage – that’s just another example of Planet Labour’s distance from the real world where, as National knows, the best way to increase all wages is through economic growth.
On Planet Labour it’s all about spending, in the real world National knows only when we’re earning our way can we have choices about spending.