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Social progress to be measured alongside economy

23 January 2001 Media Statement

Social progress to be measured alongside economic indicators – Maharey

The Government is working on a series of indicators which will allow New Zealanders to chart the social wellbeing of the nation alongside the development of the economy, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey delivered his inaugural State of the Nation address to the Takaro Rotary Club in Palmerston North this evening.

The Labour-Alliance Government inherited a legacy of major social problems across New Zealand society which it is determined to tackle and resolve. A number of initiatives were taken last year to provide new opportunities and increased security for New Zealanders. Mr Maharey said the Ministry of Social Policy would complete work this year on a series of objective indicators that can be used to measure the social well-being of New Zealand society.

"Measuring economic growth in isolation can not provide the Government with sufficient information about how our policies are improving the lives of New Zealanders. We need to measure social development objectively in the same way as we track the economy.

"There are no official measures of poverty. We must have good information on a variety of indicators such as poverty and deprivation, educational under-achievement and adult illiteracy, and social isolation to know if our policies are working.

"Significant progress was made last year on building a fairer society. Income-related rents have made quality housing affordable again for the poorest New Zealanders and unemployment reached a 12-year low.

"However, still too many people lack basic literacy skills, too many remain in poverty and too many people live isolated lives away from their communities. This must change and we must have proper tools to measure our progress," Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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