A couple of weeks ago Andrei challenged me to write about why people should vote for National.
When people ask me that I usually start by saying that they need to start by looking at the party’s values and see how closely they align with their own.
* Loyalty to our country, its democratic principles, and our Sovereign as Head of State
* National and personal security
* Equal citizenship and equal opportunity
* Individual freedom and choice
* Personal Responsibility
* Competitive enterprise and reward for achievement
* Limited government
* Strong families and caring communities
* Sustainable development of our environment
If all, or at least most, of these align with yours, that’s the first good reason to vote for National.
The second reason is economic management.
National is a party that understands the need to balance the books while respecting that it uses taxpayers’ money to do so.
Just as individuals, families, businesses and other organisations have to have their finances in order to comfortably cover necessities, have enough to cope with unexpected eventualities and afford some extras, so must governments. A strong economy is the only way to sustainably afford the first world services and infrastructure we need and expect.
When National took office in 2008 it inherited forecasts for a decade of deficits.
Successive National-led governments, thanks in no small part to then Finance Minister, now Prime Minister Bill English, managed to return to surplus in less than 10 years.
They did that in spite of the global financial crisis, earthquakes and other natural disasters, and they protected the most vulnerable and continued to increase spending on health and education while doing it.
They did it by looking not just at the quantity of the spend but the quality, cutting waste, reducing costs and charging government departments with providing greater value for taxpayers’ money.
Once surpluses were assured, they put more into health, education and welfare and introduced tax cuts which allowed people to keep a bit more of their own money.
National has proved you can trust it to provide sound economic management and that it is prepared to spend for long term benefit even if it costs more in the short-term.
Nowhere is this more evident than in welfare.
National took an actuarial approach to benefits, worked out what was driving the projected long-term increase in benefit dependency and the social and financial costs associated with that.
It then put money into helping those most in need to get work-ready and into jobs. The success of this is evident in the drop in number of people on benefits, especially younger sole parents.
The latest Household Labour Force Survey, independently produced by Statistics New Zealand, shows the unemployment rate is now at 4.8 per cent, the lowest level since December 2008.
It’s easy to underestimate just how significant this is. When National took office in 2008, at the height of the crisis, unemployment was spiking and projected to keep growing. Businesses were closing, people were losing their houses, and government debt was blowing out and on track to reach unsustainable levels.
All of this was despite fair economic conditions during the 2000s giving the previous Labour Government ample opportunity to prepare for a rainy day.
National made stabilising the economy a priority, which included some tough decisions. We developed a clear and consistent economic plan to get the country back on its feet, which included taking on debt to provide support to those at the hardest edge of the crisis.
We lowered taxes to help stimulate business growth. We began a huge programme of infrastructure development to catch up with years of neglect by Labour.
And we made significant reforms to our welfare system to help beneficiaries get back into work more quickly, and stay in work, so this latest economic shock didn’t cause another generation to fall into long-term, welfare dependency.
National has stuck with this plan, backing our businesses to grow so they can hire more people and lift incomes. The number of people unemployed has dropped by 3,000 this quarter alone, and we’ve helped you create over 181,000 new jobs in past two years.
Particularly pleasing is the reduction in the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). The rate fell to 11.1 per cent, down from 12.7 per cent in the previous quarter. The number of women who are NEET is at the lowest level on record.
All of these things are the positive results you get from National’s strong, consistent economic plan. And it’s just the beginning – there’s a lot more we’re going to do. . .
National can be trusted with public money, to keep a leash on spending, measure success by what it achieves rather than how much it spends, and allow people to keep more of what they earn.
No combination of opposition parties could be trusted to do that.
Post #2 and more will follow.