Election 2023: Chris Hipkins brings back 'traditional Labour pledge card', takes aim at National's 'imitation'

Hipkins spoke at a campaign rally in South New Brighton on Sunday.
Hipkins spoke at a campaign rally in South New Brighton on Sunday. Photo credit: Newshub.

Chris Hipkins is bringing back the "traditional Labour pledge card", which guarantees that a re-elected Labour Government would make dental free for under 30-year-olds, remove GST from fruit and veges and add 300 frontline officers to the force.

It comes a week after National leader Christopher Luxon launched his own pledge card, but Hipkins says there's a big difference.

"I'm aware others have got on the Labour bandwagon and launched their own pledge card in recent times – as they say imitation is the greatest form of flattery," Hipkins said.

"Unlike our opponents' pledge card, ours is specific about what we're going to do and when we are going to do it."

Labour's nine points are:

  • Free dental care for under 30-year-olds. Basic dental care will be free for everyone under age 24 from July 2025 and under age 30 from July 2026.
  • Remove GST from fruit and vege. Families will save around $20 a month from April 2024, making healthy eating easier.
  • Financial Literacy required in schools. Every school leaver will have a good understanding of banking, budgeting and investing starting 2025.
  • Expand 20 hours free Early Childhood Education to 2-year-olds. Saving parents an average of $133 a week from March 2024.
  • Extra $25 per week for 160,000 working families. Big boost to Working for Families from April 2024 to help with the cost of raising kids.
  • Add 300 more frontline Police. We've already delivered 1,800 additional Police, now we will add 300 more frontline Police by 2027.
  • Four weeks paid parental leave for partners. Partners will get 2 weeks paid leave from July 2024, 3 weeks from July 2025 and 4 weeks from July 2026.
  • Trade mission to India in the first 100 days. Boost economic growth and support our farmers and exporters by working towards a Free Trade Agreement with India.
  • Make Apprenticeship Boost permanent. Businesses who take on an apprentice will receive $500 per month for 2 years. This successful scheme will be made permanent.

Hipkins announced the pledge card at a campaign rally at a surf club in South New Brighton in Canterbury on Sunday.

"I've only just started. Having been Prime Minister for just over eight months I'm asking New Zealanders to back me for a full term to put in place my priorities for fighting the cost of living crisis and growing our economy," Hipkins said.

"Labour has achieved a lot in government, but there is more to do and also a lot at stake if the Coalition of Cuts get in."

Hipkins' speech was preceded by addresses from Christchurch East MP Poto Williams (who is retiring), Christchurch East candidate Reuben Davidson and Wigram MP Megan Woods.

Hipkins and those before him spent a lot of time speaking about National's proposed "cuts" to public services.  The Labour leader said now is not the time to go back to the "failed approach" of before.

He said National's pledge card was "vague [and] wishy-washy".

The crowd at the rally got especially excited when Hipkins spoke of Labour's record of increasing the minimum wage and building new public homes.

The Labour pledges made on Sunday are far more specific than what National set out. Among the National promises are to "lower inflation and grow the economy", "let you keep more of what you earn" and "build infrastructure".

Earlier on Sunday, Hipkins donned traditional headwear at the Gurudwara Singh Sabha in Christchurch. He had a private meeting with members of the Sikh community before giving a short address to the wider congregation.

Hipkins meets with the Sikh community.
Hipkins meets with the Sikh community. Photo credit: Newshub.

He noted that many of the members are small business owners who may have been impacted by crime in recent times. Hipkins spelled out Labour's policies on law and order, including its investment in the Retail Crime Prevention Fund.

Labour currently holds the central Christchurch electorates, but faces a big challenge in the electorate of Ilam. Sarah Pallett won the seat off long-time incumbent National's Gerry Brownlee during the Labour landslide of 2020. She's facing National's Hamish Campbell as well as former councillor Raf Manji of The Opportunities Party.

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