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Labour targets middle New Zealand

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/05/2016
Andrew Little © Getty Andrew Little

Labour is promising a better deal for working people if it wins the next election.

Party leader Andrew Little says middle income earners are going backwards under the government's policies as their share of economic growth shrinks.

"If working New Zealanders' share of the economy hadn't shrunk under National, the average family would now be $50 a week better off," he said in a pre-budget speech on Sunday.

"Under the last Labour government, the share of economic growth going to wage and salary earners was over 50 per cent - today it's 37 per cent."

He promised a Labour government would deliver a budget that prioritised health and education, took "real action" on housing, and ensured that working people get their fair share of economic growth.

Mr Little didn't announce new policies in his speech ahead of Thursday's budget, choosing instead to list what he considered to be the government's failures and explain what Labour would do.

"We will back the hopes and aspirations of middle New Zealand and have zero tolerance for poverty," he said. "That is what this government should do - and I will hold them to the challenge."

Mr Little said 305,000 children were growing up in poverty and going to school hungry. People were sleeping in cars and 42,000 children a year were hospitalised because they lived in poor quality homes.

"After eight years in office, one thing is blindingly obvious," he told his audience at a meeting in Wellington attended mainly by Labour supporters.

"This government has lost touch. Their priorities are all wrong. They're increasingly interested in looking after the few at the very top, and forgetting about everyone else."

Mr Little spent time talking about housing, saying the market rewarded speculators while locking out first home buyers. "In March, the average house price in Auckland rose by over $2200 a day," he said.

"How on earth are you meant to save enough to keep up with that? "We can't keep going like this."

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