Give with one hand, take with other

Labour has come up with similar ideas on youth employment to National with a much higher price tag:

The Labour Party’s skills and training policy for young people largely follows the Government’s ideas, only with a more expensive price tag, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“National has a very comprehensive programme for young people and has introduced the Youth Guarantee, Trades Academies, Maori and Pasifika Trades Training Initiatives, Vocational Pathways, New Zealand Apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Reboot, the Youth Services programme and the Flexi-wage wage subsidy,” Mr Joyce says.

“Under National, the 15-19 year old NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) rate is already down to an average of 8.2 per cent over the last year which is similar to before the Global Financial Crisis. Our comprehensive set of youth training programmes will get it down further as the economy recovers.”

Mr Joyce says the only substantive change Labour seems to be suggesting is to swap out Military Style Activity Camps for Conservation Corps.

“Labour is proposing to take the most serious, hard core repeat youth offenders on bushwalks,” Mr Joyce says.

“Other than that, Labour’s policy is an almost exact mimic of what the Government’s already doing, except Labour would re-brand some of it and spend an extra $183 million paying for it.

“This is becoming a pattern for Labour. In these key policy areas, they simply haven’t been doing the work so they don’t know what is already going on.”

Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says Labour’s proposals to scrap Military Style Activity Camps (MAC Camps) without any alternative plan show they are prepared to turn their backs on serious youth offenders.

The camps, established by the National Government in 2010, take up to 40 of the most serious and persistent young offenders each year.

“Military Style Activity Camps were created to help serious young offenders get back onto the right track before they end up in jail,” says Mr Borrows.

“They are not ‘Boot Camps’, but place intensive support around the young offenders, including the discipline and positive role-modelling provided by the New Zealand Defence Force as well as education, rehabilitation, drug, alcohol and anger-management counselling.”

The most recent results show 79 per cent of MAC graduates reduce their rate of offending.  Of those who do reoffend in some way, 81 per cent offend at a less serious level, including a 53 per cent reduction in violent offending.

“No reoffending is acceptable, but anyone who thinks they have a magic solution to stop these young people offending entirely is dreaming,” says Mr Borrows.

“These are some of our most serious young offenders, so any reduction in their future offending means fewer victims, and is a huge success.”

MAC Camps are part of the broader success in reducing youth crime, which has fallen by 30 per cent since June 2011, already ahead of the Better Public Services target of 25 per cent by June 2017.

“The National Government is serious about reducing youth crime, and our policies, including MAC Camps, are delivering tangible results,” says Mr Borrows.

“Labour’s promise to scrap them, without any alternative for these young people, shows they have already consigned them to a life of crime, prison, and creating victims.  Labour might be willing to give up on these kids, but we won’t.”

He added in a Facebook post:

. . . Either they want to cut MAC and give up on these young offenders; or they want to give them a machete and send them off into the bush, with no regard for their complex health, rehabilitation and education needs, or for public safety. Complete madness either way!

Labour’s policy is here and while it says what it will give, it omits what it will take.

They are promising a $9100 subsidy to employers to take on an apprentice.

Employers who take an apprentice straight from the dole queue, with no 90-day trial, they have to pay them the higher minimum wage Labour will impose $16.25 an hour – or higher if a National Award applies.

The minimum wage of $16.25 immediately wipes $4160 off the subsidy.

Employers who are contractors working on Government projects, such as roads, would have to pay the new apprentices a Living Wage of more than $18 an hour.

That would cost more than $12,000 a year – a lot more than Labour’s subsidy.

Employers would have to pay more in KiwiSaver contributions and also face higher and more taxes under Labour – including one on capital gains when they sold their business.

This is typical of Labour – giving a little with one hand but cancelling it out by taking more with the other.

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