What Labour promised, but will they deliver?

One has to wonder how nervous Labour is feeling.

Surprise! It just won an election. Now there are all those promises the party made to New Zealanders. Remember how it promised to abolish National Standards and build passenger rail to Hamilton?

"Our policies - the ones we campaigned on, unless otherwise stated - remain exactly the same," Prime Minister-in-waiting Jacinda Ardern said this morning.

She was speaking on The AM Show, insisting the only change to Labour policies are those outlined in the coalition agreement with NZ First and the confidence and supply arrangement with the Greens.

So what did Labour promise?

Cast your eyes over Labour's policies in a few key areas.

Mental health

Labour promised to increase resourcing for frontline health workers, put nurses in all high schools and conduct a review of the mental health system in their first 100 days. It would put mental health workers in schools affected by Canterbury earthquakes and target suicide prevention funding into mainstream and rainbow community support organisations.

Labour would put $193m over three years into mental health, on top of the Government's increase announced in the budget. It would conduct a two-year pilot programme placing mental health teams at eight sites - such as GPs - across the country. The programme would offer free crisis help for people.

Labour is offering a country-wide programme offering free crisis help to people.
Labour is offering a country-wide programme offering free crisis help to people. Photo credit: Getty

The arrangement with the Greens promises free counselling for under-25s, and the NZ First coalition promises to pilot counsellors in primary schools.

Housing

KiwiBuild is a flagship policy for Labour. It promises 100,000 affordable homes across the country within 10 years; 50,000 of them in Auckland.

Labour will also ban foreign speculators from buying existing homes.

The bright-line test is similar to a capital gains tax (CGT) but doesn't apply to businesses or farmland. Labour would extend National's bright-line test from two years to five but didn't campaign on introducing a more thorough CGT. That doesn't mean it won't happen eventually - Labour will set up a review of the tax regime. Ms Ardern repeatedly said she would act on the findings before backing down and saying the findings would be acted upon next term.

Labour would stop the transfer of state housing to social housing and turn Housing New Zealand into public service rather than a state owned enterprise.

Newshub analysis reveals how much the housing market has risen since the 2014 election.
Newshub analysis reveals how much the housing market has risen since the 2014 election. Photo credit: Newshub.
Newshub analysis reveals how much the housing market has risen since the 2014 election.
Newshub analysis reveals how much the housing market has risen since the 2014 election. Photo credit: Newshub.

Labour's policy is to provide 600,000 grants to a maximum of $2000 for the installation of insulation and heating.  Labour's confidence and supply arrangement with the Greens aims to 'end energy poverty in New Zealand" and promises to "substantially increase the number of homes insulated." That sounds like energy grants for low-income families and a solid guarantee on the insulation front.

Renting

Labour would remove letting fees, increase the notice period to 90 days and limit rent increases to once a year, with the formula stipulated in the rental contract.

Immigration

In the year to July, New Zealand's annual net migration (migrant arrivals minus migrant departures) reached a record 72,400.

Labour would reduce net migration by 20-30,000 people a year, mostly by limiting the number of people granted student and work visas. It says the population is growing too fast for housing, schooling and infrastructure to keep up.

Primary and secondary education

Labour says teachers are spending too much time on testing and bureaucracy and not enough time teaching. It would abolish National Standards and use the time and money freed up on professional development for teachers, focusing on struggling children.

Labour wants to increase education funding by $4b over four years.
Labour wants to increase education funding by $4b over four years. Photo credit: Getty

Labour would increase education funding by $4b over four years - including tertiary and early childhood education - with $1.8b to be spent on more teachers, professional development and learning resources. Part of that funding would go toward giving schools that don't ask for donations $150 per student - an attempt to help out low-decile schools which struggle to raise funds.

The NZ First coalition agreement promises free driver training in secondary schools and a 30-year plan for education.

Tertiary education

Labour would deliver a $50 boost to both the student allowance and the maximum amount that can be borrowed on living costs.

The party would restore the student allowance for postgraduate students and extend it to those studying for more than seven years, such as medical students. It would phase in a policy of three years of free tertiary study, starting with one free year in 2018 and being fully implemented by 2024. It would also introduce a policy for young entrepreneurs, who could apply to swap their three years of free tertiary study for $20,000 of funding to develop a new business.

Te Reo Māori

Labour wants Te Reo Māori offered in all secondary schools, but does not support it being a compulsory measure.

Young families

Everyone receiving Working for Families will see their tax credit increased, and the scheme will be extended to 30,000 more families. It'll reach more families by raising the abatement level from $36,350 to $42,700. Labour says this is affordable because it wouldn't implement National's tax cuts.

Through Labour's Best Start scheme, every family will get a payment of $60 a week for each child in their first year after paid parental leave ends, and until children turn three for low- and middle-income families.

A summary of changes under Labour's Best Start Scheme.
A summary of changes under Labour's Best Start Scheme. Photo credit: Supplied

Transport

Labour will commit $100 million to public transport projects in Christchurch.

It will fast-track a feasibility study on rail to the airport in Wellington and fund a replacement to the Manawatu Gorge Road.

The party will make more money available for regional transport projects by doubling the funding range from $70 - $140 million to $140 - $280 million.

Labour will invest from the National Land Transport Fund on a 'mode neutral' basis - meaning projects would be eligible for funding when the evidence shows clear benefits to the transport system and local communities.

Labour promised to build rail passenger services linking 'the Golden Triangle' of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

Tauranga’s set to get daily rapid passenger train services to Auckland and Hamilton.
Tauranga’s set to get daily rapid passenger train services to Auckland and Hamilton. Photo credit: Supplied

In Auckland, Labour promised to build light rail from the CBD to the airport within a decade, but promised the Greens it will start construction.

Labour will put $30 million towards a Skypath for pedestrians and cyclists across the Auckland Harbour Bridge. It will allow councils to introduce a regional fuel tax to help fund the projects.

Labour will put $30 million towards a Skypath for pedestrians and cyclists on Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Labour will put $30 million towards a Skypath for pedestrians and cyclists on Auckland Harbour Bridge. Photo credit: Supplied

The party will invest in rail electrification from the CBD to Pukekohe and build a third main line for passengers and freight between Westfield and Papakura.

Newshub.

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