Election 2020: What happened on 12 September

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Multiple promises have been made today by political parties in a bid to secure and appeal to more voters ahead of the general elections.

Here are the main takeaways from today’s developments.

Māori Party’s plan for ‘Mokopuna Māori Entity’

The Māori Party has announced plans to create an independent entity to take over the responsibility of Māori children in state care.

Mariameno Kapa-Kingi, Maori party candidate for Te Tai Tokerau

Photo: Supplied

This morning in Whangarei, the party announced plans to spend $600 million on a ‘Mokopuna Māori Entity’ which would be provided by Māori, for Māori, to Māori.

The party’s candidate for Te Taitokerau, Mariameno Kapa-Kingi, says Māori do not belong in generic state care, they belong within whānau, hapū and iwi.

Kapa-Kingi, who is a qualified social worker, told RNZ the current system was failing Māori.

“Every mokopuna gets a pākehā response. You’re speaking in pākehā, thinking in pākehā and the models being applied are pākehā.

“We’re smart people. We’re smart Māori-thinking people. We know what’s best for us. We do not need anyone non-Māori tell us what we need anymore. It’s just our time.”

The party would also create a partnership network with Māori organisations as well as hapū and iwi, to help children remain connected to their whakapapa.

Labour’s welfare and economic plan unveiled

The Labour Party also unveiled its welfare plan – under which the training incentive allowance for higher skilled courses will be reinstated, and people on a benefit and working part-time will be able to earn more.

Labour Party's social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.

Labour Party’s social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

Social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni said this allowance was an investment in a family’s future, and one that she herself had used in the past.

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“This support is critical to ensuring that our people continue to develop the skills needed for New Zealand’s economic recovery and rebuild.”

People can get up to $112.89 a week, with a total maximum of $4515.60 a year, and it can be used alongside student loans and childcare assistance.

It’s targeted at sole parents, disabled people and their carers, and provides extra support towards the cost of study.

The policy would cost about $431 million over four years, and about $187m in capital over 10 years and will be paid for out of the Covid Response and Recovery Fund.

Labour would also increase abatement thresholds so people could earn more in part-time work – up to $160 a week, before their benefit is reduced, about eight hours on the minimum wage. At the moment benefits start reducing for any earnings over $90 a week for someone on Jobseeker support.

The thresholds would also increase for Sole Parent Support the Supported Living Payment.

The estimated cost is up to $320m over four years; additional costs of year-on-year increases in line with minimum wage were already committed in Budget 2019.

The party’s economic plan, which was also released today, is promising to progressively extend living wage guarantees to all public service contractors.

Under the plan, public service contractors could earn almost an extra $100 per week, according to the party.

It would start the extension of living wage guarantees with public service cleaners, caterers and security guards.

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Greens promise $297m for climate friendly farming

The Green Party detailed its Farming for the Future plan today, consisting of an almost $300 million fund to support a move to more climate-friendly agricultural practices.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson trying out the produce at an organic farm in Leeston on 12 September, 2020.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson trying out the produce at an organic farm in Leeston on 12 September, 2020. Photo: RNZ / Charlie Dreaver

The Healthy Food and Farming Fund would distribute up to $297m over three years towards the transition to regenerative and organic farming.

It would be used for practical on-farm changes as well as processing infrastructure.

The party said combined with the current government’s $700m package of support for farmers to clean up waterways, this would provide $997m of funding support for clean farming.

“Our Farming for the Future Plan supports farmers to be part of the solution to the climate crisis, by offering grants, loans, and other resources to support the transition to low-emissions farming,” said co-leader James Shaw.

The party would also look to make changes to the Organic Products Bill to “include a robust definition of organic, clarify that existing organic certifications are valid, and create an organic industry advisory group to oversee the legislation.”

Other initiatives in the plan include a government-backed sustainability accreditation system for food and fibre products, a levy on the use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers, a ban on the import and use of palm kernel extract (PKE) as supplementary feed, changing the rules around forestry and strengthening land use rules, funding for urban food gardens and community agriculture and working with tangata whenua to establish a resource rental on commercial use of water.

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