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Labour knows what worries people the most, Goff says

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

Wellington, Aug 10 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff says his caucus has identified the issues that most worry people -- the unemployment rate, prices and wages, and cuts to essential social services.

Speaking after an all-day caucus retreat in Whangarei today, Mr Goff said Labour would fight the Government for the rest of the year on those issues and others.

Yesterday his MPs went around Whangarei and surrounding areas, talking to people and holding public meetings.

"Firstly there's a sense of shock in the community about the huge rise in unemployment and the sense that the recovery that (prime minister) John Key said would be achieved aggressively isn't happening," Mr Goff told NZPA.

Last week's Household Labour Force survey reported unemployment at 6.8 percent, up from 6 percent the previous quarter and just under the 7.1 percent figure in December.

"There's real concern that there isn't a plan to deal with this," Mr Goff said. "No answers, and no way forward."

He said his MPs were hearing from more and more people who hadn't had a pay rise in two years and who said making ends meet was increasingly difficult.

They knew they were facing more government-created price rises through rises in GST and ACC levies, he said.

"And we're getting a sense of anger from people about cuts to social services. There is a moodswing there -- just look at health, where district health boards say they can't cut costs any more without damaging fundamental services," Mr Goff said.

"We've been raising these issues in Parliament and we'll keep on doing that."

Mr Goff said unemployment in the region was 9 percent and all the business people he talked to said times were really tough.

"People are worried about the disproportionate impact of unemployment on groups like teenage Maori boys," he said.

"Huge numbers are out of work without being in education or training."

Mr Goff said Labour was developing policies to deal with all these issues.

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