Few seniors attending a community event on Labour’s seniors policy expected to hear about Trevor Mallard’s false teeth.

Hon Annette King, Labour MP for Rongotai and Spokesperson for State Services attended the event and entertained the group with stories of her political life, as she prepares to retire from politics after the election. The story of Mallard losing his teeth during a particularly robust debate in the House prompted a few chuckles.

“During the debate Trevor’s dental plate shot out of his mouth and landed on a senior minister’s shoulder. Trevor whipped it up and popped it back in while he was still talking,” said King.

Over 70 people attended the event in Wainuiomata last week hosted by Ginny Andersen, Labour candidate for Hutt South. The group of mostly elderly people heard of Labour’s policies for improved mental health services and subsidised dental care.

So far, there has been little reported on Labour’s aged care and seniors policies in the build-up to this year’s election.

The New Zealand Seniors’ Party has bemoaned the lack of policies for seniors.

“We hear promises like extending parental leave with time off for both parents, free post-secondary education for a year along with an additional $50 per week for university students,” says chairperson Paul Rea.

“One promise that is sadly missing is what will these Parties do for pensioners. We are the forgotten generation who have worked hard all our lives, been honest law-abiding citizens – for what? Many are living on the bread line struggling to make ends meet, costs are rising but pensions are not. $50/week would go a long way to help pensioners pay their bills.”

In terms of aged care policies, earlier this year a joint aged care inquiry by Labour, the Greens and Grey Power uncovered concerns about the quality of aged care facilities and access to home care services across the country.

Labour health spokesperson Dr David Clark has indicated that an independent aged-care commissioner is needed to hear patients’ concerns. He has also suggested a rating system for aged care facilities with unannounced independent audits and better training for entry-level workers was needed.

At next week’s New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA) conference in Rotorua, an address from the Associate Minister of Health, Minister Nicky Wagner and a political panel including representatives from Labour and the Greens are expected to bring more light to parties’ aged care and seniors policies.

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